True unit's lease to CAT 'unintentionally broke the law'
The telecom regulator's probe panel has decided that although True Corp's BFKT (Thailand) had broken the law by leasing network equipment without a licence, it did so unintentionally, so the breach will not be held against it.However, if the National Broadcasting and Telecommuni-cations Commission's telecom committee agrees with the panel's conclusion, BFKT will have to suspend operations until it can rectify the situation.
Takorn Tantasit, secretary-general of the NBTC, said last week that the panel's findings would be submitted to the telecom committee's meeting on Wednesday.
The panel's investigation showed that BFKT leased the network equipment to CAT Telecom without a telecom licence. However, this was done under contracts between CAT and True to offer 3G-850MHz service, so the panel was of the view that nothing needed to be done about the infraction in the past.
Takorn said that when True and CAT finish the joint revision of their 3G-850 MHz service offering partnership contracts, this could fix the problem and BFKT could continue the network rental service under these True-CAT contracts.
The NBTC last June ordered CAT and True to revise six clauses in their contracts to bring them into complete compliance with the Frequency Allocation Act. The new contracts must show that CAT has sole control over its own spectrum. CAT and True signed a memorandum of understanding on December 4 to amend the contracts.
True subsidiaries Real Future and Real Move, and CAT in 2011 agreed to cooperate to provide third-generation cellular service on the 850-megahertz spectrum. Real Future's BFKT has rented the network equipment to CAT to wholesale and resell 3G bandwidth. CAT has wholesaled the bandwidth to Real Move.
Last June the watchdog also ordered its panel to probe if BFKT violates the telecom law by operating the network rental service under these contracts without an NBTC licence. The officials sent the probe result to the NBTC's staff late last year.
However, CAT and True might not be able to finish the joint contract amendment so quickly. Recently CAT said True and CAT must wait for the Council of State's determination of whether their service partnership is subject to the State-Private Joint Venture Act before they can amend their contracts to satisfy the NBTC.
If the Council of State advises that the contracts are covered by the JV Act, they would need Cabinet approval. In that case, CAT and True would amend the contracts to comply with both laws at the same time.
While waiting for the council's opinion, Real Move can continue offering its 3G-850MHz service under the "TrueMove H" brand, which now has over 2.5 million subscribers.