NBTC to cut telecom regulatory fees next year to benefit users

Economy August 22, 2014 01:00

By Usanee Mongkolporn
The Nation

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The telecom committee of National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) plans to reduce the annual licence and spectrum fees and monthly phone-number fees for all telecom operators next year to encourage them to lower the service fees they

The NBTC’s overall telecom fees are expected to reach around Bt6.3 billion this year, surging from about Bt4.6 billion last year. In view of this, the telecom committee has considered adjusting the fees for the benefit of consumers. It would also reflect the committee’s policy to balance revenue and expenditure every year. 
Currently, telecom operators with annual revenue over Bt1 billion pay 1.5 per cent of total income as the fee for their NBTC licence. Those with revenue not over Bt100 million pay 0.25 per cent, those bringing in Bt100 million to Bt500 million pay 0.5 per cent, and those in the next revenue category up to Bt1 billion pay 1 per cent.
All of the telecom operators pay an annual Universal Service Obligation (USO) fee of 3.75 per cent of their revenue. 
The phone-number fee is a maximum of Bt2 per month, and this accounts for more than half of the NBTC’s total fee income each year. In the first six months of this year, fee income from this source was Bt2.1 billion, and it is expected to reach Bt3.8 billion by the end of this year. 
The licence and frequency fees combined contribute about Bt2 billion a year to the NBTC. 
Chitsata Sriprasertsuk, NBTC director of numbering management, said the commission so far had assigned 195 million mobile-phone numbers with the 08- and 09- prefixes. It has about 160 million numbers left in the system, of which 100 million have the 01- prefix and 60 million with the 06- prefix. Of the 195 million mobile numbers already assigned, 101.85 million are actively used by 67 million people. The ratio of mobile-phone-number use is 1.5 numbers per person.
She said the NBTC was trying to manage the 160 million remaining mobile-phone numbers so they are sufficient for at least the next three years, so that it does not have to rush to adopt an 11-digit numbering system to replace the current 10-digit system. 
One way to achieve the goal would be to adjust the regulations governing the return of inactive numbers by the telecom operators to the NBTC for reallocation. Another way would be to assign the so-called golden numbers. These are phone numbers with at least six identical digits, for example 08-12333333. Such numbers currently are not used.
Chitsata said the NBTC had also considered reducing the mobile-phone-number fee to a uniform rate.