NACC seeks more info on 3G wireless broadband service projects

Economy June 30, 2014 00:00

By Usanee Mongkolporn,
Sugree Ma

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The National Anti-Corruption Commission has requested more information from the national telecom and broadcasting regulator and ICT Ministry on their separate cases relating to 3G wireless broadband service projects as the anti-graft agency probes the cas

Last week the NACC’s board convened to discuss whether the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission’s approval of the results of the auction of 2.1GHz third-generation cellular licences in 2012 had breached the State Bidding Act and lacked meaningful competition. 
NACC board member Vicha Mahakhun said that the board had yet to make a decision on the matter, given it was the first time it had looked into details submitted by its subcommittee scrutinising the case. 
He added that the board has asked the NBTC for more details and he did not know when the board would convene to discuss the matter again. He admitted that the case was complicated. 
It involves four of five NBTC’s telecom committee members who voted to approve the auction results. 
They are committee chairman Settapong Malisuwan and commissioners Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn, Prasert Silphiphat, and Sukit Khamasundara. 
The NACC board had resolved to set up a subcommittee to probe the case in October 2012. 
The NACC also wrote to the Information and Communication Technology Ministry last week to ask for more information on the contracts between CAT Telecom and True Corp group regarding their partnership to provide the 3G high-speed packet access service (HSPA) using the 850MHz spectrum. 
In the letter, it also asked if the ministry took any action to have these contracts amended. It also asked for details of this ministry’s action.
It also asked about the process the ministry used when considering CAT’s budget to develop this service under the partnership contracts. 
CAT and True subsidiaries Real Move and Real Future signed the partnership deals on January 27, 2011. Under the arrangement, BFKT of Real Future rented 3G HSPA equipment to CAT to generate a 3G bandwidth over a 14-year contract.
CAT agreed to wholesale the 3G bandwidth to Real Move to provide a service for 14 years. The deals attracted probes by many state authorities over their legitimacy.
In 2011, the NACC appointed a sub-panel to probe then CAT president Jirayuth Rungsrithong over his decision to allow CAT sign the partnership deal with True.
True and CAT had amended six clauses in the network-rental contracts under the partnership to make them comply with the Frequency Allocation Law – in line with NBTC’s order in 2012. 
The NBTC telecom committee endorsed the contract amendment in October 2013.