The chairman of the telecoms committee of Thailand’s National Telecommunications & Broadcasting Commission (NBTC), Colonel Setthapong Malisuwan, has scolded Telenor Group, the parent of the country’s second-largest cellco DTAC, for telling its users that the NBTC had ordered a temporary block on Facebook social media access following the recent coup d’etat, and has apparently threatened to ban DTAC from the upcoming 4G 1800MHz licence auction in August this year. As reported by TelecomAsia, Setthapong aired the opinion that Telenor’s ‘inappropriate, ill-mannered’ actions were an indication that the company was in breach of Thailand’s foreign control guidelines (‘Foreign Dominance Notification’) and also claimed that he would consider proposing to exclude DTAC from the upcoming 4G auction on those grounds. Setthapong added that the telecoms committee would be re-examining DTAC’s shareholding structure, while he specifically named Telenor Asia’s head of communications Tor Odland as an example of how a foreigner was ‘dominant’ over DTAC. The Norwegian group had told its subscribers: ‘Telenor Group can confirm that on Wednesday 28 May DTAC received a notification at 15:00 local time from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission of Thailand to restrict access to Facebook temporarily.’ The official line was that the Facebook restriction was caused by a large scale network failure, while the NBTC denied any involvement with the outage, as did the junta administration, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
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