The Thailand MVNO Club has asked the licensing body to revise and relax some rules to increase the number of mobile virtual network operators and make it easier for them to run their business.
An MVNO is an entity that does not have its own network but leases airtime on the network of a telecom operator to provide service.
Until recently, when an MVNO applied for mobile-phone numbers for the first time, it was allocated a maximum 200,000 numbers by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission. It could apply for additional numbers only after at least 70 per cent of the original allocation was sold out.
However, the club recently told the NBTC that MVNOs had found that 200,000 phone numbers were not enough to serve customers in the initial period. In addition, if they have to wait until 70 per cent are sold out before they can apply for additional numbers, they can face service disruptions, as it takes time for the additional numbers to be assigned.
The club recommended that the NBTC assign 1 million numbers to MVNOs on their first request and exempt them from the 70-per-cent rule. This would make it easier for them to run a business.
NBTC deputy secretary-general Korkij Danchaivichit said the commission recently increased the initial allocation of phone numbers to MVNOs to 500,000 from 200,000.
The club also wants the NBTC to lower the network interconnection charge for MVNOs.
The interconnection charge is what a caller’s network pays to the network of the call recipient on a mutually agreed basis. The more subscribers of the former call out, the more the networks of the callers pay to the latter.
The club also asked the NBTC to set up a special team to help the MVNOs understand the regulations and listen to their problems.
Korkij said the NBTC had considered lowering the annual licence fee for all telecom licence holders across the board.
Currently licence holders with annual revenue of up to Bt100 million are subject to an annual fee of 0.25 per cent of gross revenue, while those with revenue of Bt100 million to Bt500 million pay 0.5 per cent, those with Bt500 million to Bt1 billion pay 1 per cent licence fee, and those earning revenue of Bt1 billion and up pay 1.5 per cent.
He added that the interconnection fee was expected to be reduced to less than 20 satang a minute next year from the present 34 satang.
The MVNO Club has four members – i-mobile Plus Co of Samart I-Mobile, Data CDMA Communication Co, 168 Communication, and The WhiteSpace Co. All are part of CAT Telecom’s MVNO network providing third-generation cellular service on the 850-megahertz spectrum.
There are 33 MVNOs in Thailand, of which eight are active: IEC , Loxley, 168, M Consultant, i-mobile, Data CDMA, The White Space and Real Move. Chaiyod Chirabowornkul, chairman of the Thailand MVNO Club and chief executive officer of The White Space, said the company had quickly acquired about 100,000 subscribers after the service was launched one month go.