NBTC's first year gets failing grade

The first year's performance of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has been slammed by a panel of academics who accused the watchdog of failing to keep the public interest uppermost in its mind.

They also warned that the NBTC will likely face another critical problem next year when the regulator must recall radio frequencies for reallocation.

The criticism was raised at a seminar hosted by the NBTC on Monday.

Anuparp Thiralarp, an independent telecom academic, pointed out the NBTC has yet to draft any regulations or measures governing operators in the area of third-generation (3G) pricing.

"This despite the fact that the regulator sold off 3G licences in a controversial auction on Oct 16. It is a total failure of the NBTC," he said.

Prof Pirongrong Ramasoota, the dean of Chulalongkorn University's communication arts faculty, said it is readily apparent that the NBTC's two committees _ telecommunications and broadcasting _ have failed to coordinate.

Prof Sudharma Yoonaidharma, dean of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce's law school, said newcomers had only three months to prepare for the 3G auction after it was announced.

Other countries give interested foreign telecoms at least one year to prepare before jumping into the market, he said.