Regulator wants cheap 4G SIMs for poor

Regulator wants cheap 4G SIMs for poor

Advanced Info Service (AIS) and True Move must provide affordable fourth-generation (4G) SIM cards for disabled and low-income Thais by next March, says the national telecom regulator.

The order is subject to the terms and conditions set out in the schedule for the mobile licences the two companies secured on the 1800- and 900-megahertz spectra at last year's 4G auctions.

AIS, through its subsidiary Advanced Wireless Network (AWN), and True Move via subsidiary True Move H Universal Communication (TUC) won two 4G licences each.

"The low-cost 4G SIM cards must provide tariff rates at least 10% cheaper than the existing maximum 4G mobile voice and data tariff rates capped by the telecom regulator," said Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

The maximum tariffs for mobile phone service on the 1800MHz and 900MHz bands have been set at 69 satang per minute for voice services and 26 satang per megabit per second (Mbps) for data services.

"All Thais must benefit from national resources like spectrum," Mr Takorn said.

The auctions of 4G licences were aimed at creating greater opportunity for communication and bridging the digital divide in the country, he said.

Mr Takorn said AWN and TUC were infformed months in advance that they had to introduce low-cost 4G SIM card offers by March. Both companies are required to design a process to meet the regulator's timeline.

The NBTC is in talks with the Social Development and Human Security Ministry to help register disabled and low-income people.

"We expect to get an update on the disabled and low-income lists across the country by year-end and share them with AWN and TUC," Mr Takorn said.

He acknowledged that the definition of disabled and low-income people will have to be finalised in cooperation with the ministry. A final interpretation of the definition is expected to come in January.

Mr Takorn suggested low-income people might be defined as those earning less than 10,000 baht a month.

Low-income families and the disabled must sign up for the low-cost 4G SIM cards, he said.

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