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Uttama orders quick fix to telecom row

Aug 27. 2015
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By USANEE MONGKOLPORN
THE NATION

INFORMATION and Communications Technology Minister Uttama Savanayana has ordered TOT and CAT Telecom to finalise new business plans and clear up all disputes with telecom concession holders within one month, so that both agencies can start a new chapter o
He said he would also continue implementing the government’s “digital economy” policy.
“I will call in TOT and CAT to discuss their rehabilitation plans this week. If they can clear up all disputes with the concession holders, they’ll be able to get new start to woo new investment from international companies,” he said yesterday after meeting with the state agencies under his ministry’s purview.
The disputes between the two state telecommunication agencies and their private concession holders range from the ownership of telecom towers to past amendments of their concession agreements.
The TOT board last week acknowledged the conclusion of the public-private joint-venture panel that the six amendments made to Advanced Info Service’s concession in the past were unlawful, according to a board member who declined to be named.
The board also instructed the agency’s management to finish calculating the damages TOT allegedly incurred from the amendments for presentation to Uttama, who was appointed ICT minister in the recent Cabinet shuffle.
When asked about this case, Uttama said he would need to look into the details first and examine it carefully.
TOT and CAT have asked the ICT Ministry to allow them to keep parts of the 900- and 1,800-megahertz spectra, respectively, to provide service after their concessions expire. But the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) will reclaim these spectra for auction this November.
Uttama said he would discuss the matter with CAT and TOT, but the NBTC can go ahead with the auction since it has full authority by law to do so.
He said he would also continue implementing the government’s digital-economy policy and push ahead all nine draft laws related to this effort. However, some tasks of the subcommittees of the ad hoc National Digital Economy Committee might be reviewed.
Yesterday, he also asked all ICT state agencies to launch at least two concrete projects that can serve the public. 
There are eight agencies under the ICT Ministry: TOT, CAT, Thailand Post, the Meteorology Department, the National Statistical Office, the Software Industry Promotion Agency, the Electronic Transactions Development Agency and the Electronic Government Agency.
 

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