NBTC lets Line Mobile off the hook for MVNO licence

NBTC lets Line Mobile off the hook for MVNO licence

Line Mobile received mostly good news from the regulator. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)
Line Mobile received mostly good news from the regulator. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)

Line Mobile will not have to apply for a licence under the mobile virtual network operator(MVNO) formula, according to a resolution on Tuesday by the telecom regulator's board.

Line Mobile is owned and operated by DTN, a subsidiary of Total Access Communication (DTAC). Line Mobile shares DTN's spectrum to provide low-cost SIM card packages, according to the third-ranked mobile operator.

In its resolution, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) ordered Line Mobile to amend its online registration system. Online registration violates existing regulations, which require registration to be done at a service point with an ID card.

Also yesterday, the NBTC board ordered Line Mobile to improve awareness of the product's features among its customers, many of whom may lack of essential information about the service, said NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith.

"Line Mobile must strictly adhere to the order of the NBTC board, or face punishment by the regulator," Mr Takorn said.

The decision of the NBTC board came after major mobile operators Advanced Info Service (AIS) and True Move submitted letters to the NBTC, urging the commission to clarify whether Line Mobile can operate without a licence from the regulator, including an MVNO licence.

An MVNO is mobile operator which operates without its own telecom network, but leases other's network capacity to provide mobile services.

The NBTC set up the panel to scrutinise Line Mobile's operation in September. After talking with representatives of Line Mobile and considering the service's commercial advertising, online operations and subscription model, the panel submitted its report to NBTC yesterday.

DTN pays a royalty fee to Line Thailand, but the company declined to disclose details of the payment.

More importantly, Line Mobile insists that the government will still receive appropriate licensing payments, since all revenues of Line Mobile will be transferred to DTN, which holds a mobile licence from the NBTC.

The arrival of Line Mobile drew attention because of its low tariffs, and the ability to use Line Messenger, Line Calls, Line Video Calls and Line TV without using data quota.

In another development, the NBTC's board has yet to approve the partnership model between TOT and DTAC on TOT's 2300-megahertz spectrum, saying TOT must disclose more details to the NBTC next Monday.

A source at the NBTC said the partnership deal may be delayed since the commission would prefer for TOT to use the 2300-MHz via broadband wireless access technology or fixed-link networks, rather than add 4G and roaming capacity to DTAC's network.

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