CAT is not the telecom regulator
The telecom sector is a battlefield. Much of Thai politics has been kept more or less in a stalemate for years now, only because of big, bad telecom money - money challenged only by the coup. Now there is another telecom battle. CAT wants to get around the expiration of its concessions and be allowed to go on for another 12 years. This time CAT is challenging the telecom regulator NBTC by bypassing it and "negotiating" directly with the government and the ICT Ministry. It is clear that the leadership of state-owned CAT is again out of touch with how things work in a democracy.CAT tries to act - if not in name, then in practice - as the real telecom regulator. The NBTC is clearly at a higher level in the state system than CAT, and is without doubt CAT's regulator. The government and ICT Ministry should chastise CAT when it goes over the head of the NBTC. It should refuse to hear CAT's case and send it quickly back to the NBTC where it belongs, so there is no doubt about who is in charge of regulating the telecom sector. The government, surely, is not going to undermine the authority of its own telecom regulator?
CAT's practice is clearly undemocratic, but is it against the law? What consequences should there be for CAT? The last time it acted as "telecom regulator" - by challenging the authority of the NBTC's predecessor, thereby delaying the 3G start-up for a long time - there were no consequences.
Why does CAT have problems sticking to rules and proceedings? Is it lack of knowledge, or is it simply about money?
The last telecom auction was "regulated" by one of the bidders to become non-competitive. Then came the state CAT/private True 3G deal without auction. Now, expiring concessions are not respected by CAT, which does not respect the NBTC, the telecom regulator. If all necessary laws and regulations are in place, it seems the NBTC has to take a stronger stance to avoid future telecom chaos, which could threaten telecom security and also reduce and delay again the newest and most modern of telecom services for innocent customers.
This may also be the right time for Thailand to reduce the number of state telecom operators to one. Let TOT take over all operations and get rid of the other "cook", which over and over again just burns the sauce (and maybe also has too-close ties with private telecom companies).