Underground cable deal 'unfair monopoly'

Underground cable deal 'unfair monopoly'

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's underground cable project will open the door to a trade monopoly in the telecom industry, according to Sakon Varanyuwatana, chairman of the Trade Competition Commission under the Office of Trade Commission Competition (OTCC).

"The BMA giving a 30-year-concession to a sole company [True Corporation] to operate the cable will create market power and bargaining power. The concession will affect access to service, market and costs related to the use of underground cable pipes in the long run," Mr Sakon said on Wednesday.

The OTCC is examining the project and having talks with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on how to prevent a trade monopoly forming.

The OTCC's view is that the BMA, as a state agency, should consider the impact to the price of service and trade competition when it decides to award such a long-term contract to a single private company, Mr Sakon said.

The City Administration was lambasted last Tuesday when it signed an MoU with the NBTC to shift overhead telecom and broadcast cables underground within two years.

The project's cost is estimated at 20 billion baht.

The criticism followed reports that True, one of three telecom operators, had gained a 30-year concession to run the scheme.

The BMA has reportedly dismissed the accusations, saying the telecom operator will only lease cable conduits, not operate the whole system.

True was discussing a contract with Krungthep Thanakom (KT) Co, City Hall's holding company for public investment projects, to lease 80% of the cable conduits.

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