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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        14  February 2011

Thai telecoms deal under scrutiny

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A quick telecom deal between a Thai telecom company and a state-owned agency is going to face the scrutiny of Thailand's Auditor General Office.

The government last week asked the Office of the Auditor General to scrutinize the new contracts between True and CAT, which were signed within days of the completion of True's acquisition of the small Hutch network.

Competitors AIS and DTAC have questioned the speed with which the agreements were reached, since they appear to extend True's concession life and give it a big edge in 3G development as long as the issuing of full commercial licences remains stalled.

True Move has admitted that its third-generation (3G) wireless broadband future is hanging in the balance as its Hutch mobile contract deal with its concession owner CAT Telecom is facing legal challenges.

The country's third-largest mobile operator, however, welcomes the scrutiny and is ready to abide by any principled decision the authorities might take, said Suphachai Chearavanont, the chief executive of True Corporation.

True Move's concession contract will end in 2013, while those of top operator AIS and second-ranked DTAC end in 2015 and 2018, respectively

True was prepared to seek other solutions if its Hutch deal were terminated, he added. Under the new marketing contracts, the True subsidiary Real Move will resell CAT's planned 3G services running on a high speed packet access (HSPA) platform for 14 years. The True unit Real Future will manage the network equipment.

Mr. Suphachai said he welcomed scrutiny of the contracts by state authorities in order to clear up any misunderstandings and end all disputes.

He said the contracts worked to the mutual benefit of both True Move and CAT. For example, he said, the state enterprise had high potential to earn revenue from renting mobile tower facilities to mobile operators.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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