NBTC: CAT-True 3G deal broke the law

NBTC: CAT-True 3G deal broke the law

Chairman: 'I believe case will go to court'

The third-generation (3G) network contract between True Corporation and its concession owner CAT Telecom has been found to violate a law, says a fact-finding panel of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

The committee expects to conclude the scrutiny this week before submitting its result to the NBTC's telecom committee next month to make a final decision.

Col Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the telecom committee, said the investigation panel suggested that BFKT, a unit of True's subsidiary Real Future, is in violation of Article 67 of the Telecom Business Act of 2001 by offering services without a proper licence.

CAT and True subsidiaries Real Move and Real Future signed an agreement in January 2011 giving True a 14-year contract under a "wholesale and reseller partnership" with the state enterprise.

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

In addition, the contract stipulated that CAT was not allowed to be involved in network expansion and management plans.

Col Settapong said the investigating panel offered three resolutions for the NBTC in dealing with the findings: file a police report alleging a crime; ask BFKT to apply for a licence from the NBTC; or order CAT to set up a backup business plan to prevent service disruptions.

However, he said if the case goes to court and the defendants are found guilty, BFKT executives may be sentenced to a maximum of one year in prison, a fine of up to 10 million baht, or both punishments in addition to confiscation of the installed 3G equipment.

"Personally, I believe this case will eventually end up in court," said Col Settapong.

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

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

NBTC secretary Takorn Tantasit said the fact-finding panel met representatives of CAT and BKFT on Aug 9 to ask for further information concerning the network operation centre for HSPA equipment at the state enterprise's branch office in Bangrak district.

CAT asked BFKT to relocate the NOC to its own facility, but little progress has been made so far.

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