THE THREE leading mobile-telecommunication providers have opposed the planned new charges for third- and fourth-generation voice and data service, claiming that the rates would affect their subscribers and fail to promote competition in the liberalised ma
They voiced their opinions yesterday in a focus-group meeting held by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission on the new rates approved by the telecom committee on June 22, to be forwarded to a focus group hearing.
A telecom-industry observer said the new rates, if adopted, were expected to reduce the revenue of telecom operators by 10 per cent on average.
According to the new rates, the voice-call rate on 2.1-gigahertz service must not exceed 82 satang per minute, and data fees must not exceed 28 satang per megabyte. The call rate for service on the 1,800- and 900-megahertz spectra must be lower than 69 satang per minute and data fees lower than 26 satang per megabyte.
The planned rates will be applied to all promotional packages and the operators will have to bill them on a per-second basis.
The NBTC’s existing tariffs are similar to the new planned rates. But the difference is that these new rates will be applied to each package the operators offer, while the existing rates are the average rates of all packages.
Chakkrit Urairat, deputy director of regulatory affairs at True Corp, said more than half of the company’s existing subscribers would be affected by the planned new rates, as it would have to launch new promotional packages to comply with them, which in some cases might have higher charges than the existing ones.
The three operators yesterday separately issued press releases of their opinions on the planned rates. According to True’s statement, the planned rates do not provide diverse choices to consumers and fail to comply with the mechanisms of competition in the liberalised market.
Narupon Rattanasamaharn, Total Access Communication’s senior vice president and head of its regulatory division, said DTAC did not agree with the new rates as they would result in a lack of package diversity.
It its statement, DTAC suggested that the regulator consider the balance of interests between service operators and subscribers. Operators have to keep expanding their networks and improving their services, including the ecosystem of the mobile-phone industry based on fair competition.
In Thailand, the competition in the mobile-phone market is very intense, so operators need to offer a variety of service packages to serve customers’ needs appropriately, DTAC said. Meanwhile in other countries with the same level of competition as Thailand, there is no service-rate regulation. They let the price mechanism freely play a big role, such as in the European Union or even some Asean countries.
Moreover, the service rates in Thailand are among the lowest in Asean, it said.
An Advanced Info Service representative said that as the regulator, the NBTC should consider consumer benefits by not launching new rates without conducting a suitable feasibility study first. This would affect all users, as they might get stuck with new packages they may not desire.
Meanwhile, some consumer groups have reportedly welcomed the planned new rates, which they believe would lower users’ tariffs.
Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the NBTC, said the commission would collect information on the issue and make a proposal to the telecom committee soon.