11 July 2024

The “Stop mobile phone monopoly” hashtag is trending top on Twitter in Thailand today (Wednesday), with 127,000 tweets as of noon, after True Corporation and Total Access Communications (DTAC) yesterday urged the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to decide quickly on their merger plan.

In their petition letter to the telecom regulator, True and DTAC said that their merger plan was submitted to the regulator about nine months ago for review, but there is still no decision which, they noted, should not have taken more than three months to reach.

The two companies also claimed that the delay by the NBTC has affected their subscribers, because they are unable to access their each other’s networks.

Meanwhile, the Thailand Consumer Council, which has been resisting the merger, has urged the NBTC to perform its duty in line with the spirit of the 2017 Constitution, which is to reject the merger plan for public benefit.

Somkiat Tangkitvanich, president of the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), said in his Facebook post that the merger, if approved, would disadvantage subscribers regarding service charges and/or potential price collusion.

NBTC board member Prawit Leesathapornwongsa said that the regulator may opt for a conditional approval of the merger, such as requiring the newly created telecom entity to divest itself of some parts of its business.

According to the Thailand Consumer Council, the merger, if approved by the NBTC, would give True and DTAC a 52% market share in Thailand, compared to 44% currently held by Advanced Info Services (AIS).

True and DTAC currently hold six spectrum licenses each, for 1,420 and 990MHz frequencies, and have 32 million and 19.3 million mobile phone subscribers respectively, while AIS has five spectrum licenses for 270MHz frequencies and 43.7 million subscribers.