True, CAT executives could face year in jail

True, CAT executives could face year in jail

NBTC panel to file illegal 3G complaint

TECH
True, CAT executives could face year in jail

Executives of True Corporation and CAT Telecom could face one year in jail and/or a fine of up to 10 million baht for providing third-generation (3G) service without a licence.

A CAT Telecom employee gives commands to a robot at the CAT Network Showcase 2012 yesterday at CentralWorld. PATTARACHAI PEECHAPANICH

An investigation panel of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has resolved to file a criminal complaint against BFKT and CAT Telecom for illegally offering 3G wireless broadband service.

The resolution will be submitted to the NBTC's telecom committee for a final decision before being passed to the board for approval, a senior panel member told the Bangkok Post yesterday.

The 74-page investigation report said BFKT, a unit of True's subsidiary Real Future, is in violation of Section 67 of the Telecommunications Business Act of 2001 by offering service without a proper licence.

The 3G infrastructure arm also breached Section 11 of the Radio Communications Act of 1955, which prohibits anyone from installing a radio communications station without having the proper licence.

Meanwhile, CAT Telecom will be subject to the same charges, as the state enterprise facilitated a 3G network deal, said the source, who is one of the nine members of the investigation panel which was chaired by Ong-ard Ruengrungsom.

''If this case goes to court and the defendants are found guilty, then BFKT executives could be sentenced to a maximum of one year in jail and/or a fine of up to 10 million baht plus confiscation of the installed 3G equipment,'' said the source.

CAT and True subsidiaries Real Move and Real Future signed the 3G agreement in January 2011.

The contract gives True a 14-year contract under a wholesale and reseller partnership with the state telecom enterprise.

Under one of the six contracts, BFKT installed 7,500 3G base stations, much more than CAT was legally permitted to do.

In addition, the contract stipulated CAT could not be involved in network expansion or management plans.

Col Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the telecom committee, acknowledged the report and said he has instructed the panel to use the clearest wording possible in the conclusion since it involves possibly criminal activity.

''Proof of a crime requires supporting evidence and the element of intent. If we do decide to file criminal charges, then we'll have to be sure we can win the case,'' he said.

Col Settapong said the telecom committee will decide on the the case this month.

An NBTC member said the board will almost certainly approve whatever resolution the telecom committee issues, but believes the True-CAT Telecom case will likely end up in court.

Kittisak Sriprasert, CAT's chief executive, said the state enterprise will await the conclusion from the NBTC before deciding on action.

On June 20, the NBTC ordered CAT to amend six items in the contracts, saying they violated Section 46 of the Frequency Allocation Act of 2010, which requires licence holders and spectrum owners to manage spectrum rights on their own.

The regulator is on the verge of verifying whether BFKT is the party responsible under the contracts for procuring telecommunications towers and signal systems for the 3G network as part of CAT's operations.

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