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CAT Telecom expects to sue NBTC over postconcession deal for TrueMove, DPC

Oct 11. 2013
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By Usanee Mongkolporn

The Nati

CAT Telecom plans to sue the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission at the Central Administrative Court for up to Bt275 billion in compensation for opportunity losses caused by the NBTC's granting permission to two cellular companies to

 

The NBTC said yesterday that it was ready to defend itself.

Hansa Chevapurke, senior executive vice president for legal affairs at CAT, said the agency’s board on Wednesday approved the deposit of Bt280 million as part of the requirements for filing a damage claim at the court.

While he declined to specify the damages, a CAT source said the board was told that the state enterprise would ask for Bt275 billion from the NBTC.

Hansa said the figure had yet to be finalised as the board instructed management to review the assumptions in calculating the value.

CAT had assumed that it would have taken over the provisioning of services to the 17 million customers of TrueMove and Digital Phone Co (DPC), whose concessions expired last month, had the NBTC not intervened.

Under the concessions, these customers belong to CAT, which had planned to migrate them to its own third-generation cellular network on the 850-megahertz spectrum.

Other assumptions were average monthly revenue per user of Bt300 for TrueMove’s and DPC’s former customers and 12 years remaining on CAT’s telecom business licence.

The board wants CAT to come up with an exact forecast of how many of these 17 million subscribers would really want to move to CAT’s network without the NBTC’s interim measure.

TrueMove and DPC were allowed to join with CAT in serving their customers for one more year as part of the NBTC’s interim measure to prevent service disruption at consumers’ expense. This measure took effect in late August.

CAT views that the measure breaches telecom law by allowing the companies to continue using the 1,800MHz frequency to operate a cellular service without a telecom licence. CAT will also ask the court to revoke the NBTC’s measure. CAT has 90 days from the implementation of the NBTC’s measure to file the compensation claim.

NBTC member Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn said the measure did not favour a particular party but would benefit the general public, including CAT.

Under the measure, CAT would also earn rental income from leasing its network to TrueMove and DPC to continue operating for one more year. Without the measure, CAT would gain nothing, as the 1,800MHz band would be returned to the NBTC for reallocation once the concessions ended, he said.

Settapong Malisuwa, chairman of the commission’s telecom committee, has said he understands that CAT has to file the lawsuit to protect its interests or else it might be accused of negligence.

CAT president Kitisak Sriprasert said the state enterprise expected revenue of Bt39 billion this year, of which Bt24 billion would come from its 3G-850MHz service under its partnership with True Corp. Of the Bt24 billion, Bt4 billion would be net profit, which is projected to surge to Bt7 billion next year.

CAT earned Bt10 billion on revenue of Bt34 billion in the first eight months.

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