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True-Dtac merger will bump up phone bills if NBTC does not step in: TCC


The National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) must ensure that the True Corporation (True) and Total Access Communication (Dtac) merger does not cause market dominance, the Thailand Consumers Council (TCC) said on Thursday.

Saree Ongsomwang, TCC’s secretary-general, said the True-Dtac merger will reduce the number of mobile operators to just two, which is not acceptable as the market will no longer be competitive.

"The council will continue monitoring the issue and submit proposals to NBTC," she said.

Meanwhile, Sirikanya Tansakun, spokesperson for an extraordinary commission for considering the impact of the merger, accused the telecom watchdog for not looking after consumers.

She also warned that if the merger went through, it would result in a 20 per cent hike in people’s mobile phone bills, citing a Chulalongkorn University study.

The NBTC board should make honest decisions over the True-Dtac merger and ensure public interests are protected, she said.

Former NBTC commissioner Dr Prawit Leesatapornwongsa said the commission should study the merger thoroughly, with a special focus on public interests.

If the merger does go ahead, NBTC should ensure the market remains competitive and mitigate the merger’s impact as much as possible, he said.

He added that liberalising the telecom market by allowing foreign companies to enter Thailand will make the market more competitive.

Consumers should also express their opinion on the merger, so their interests can be protected, while the government sector should strengthen cooperation, such as improving regulations.

TCC deputy secretary-general Suwit Wichitsopha advised NBTC to study the merger with the Trade Competition Commission and Commerce Ministry to prevent consumers from being hit by a spike in charges.

"We want NBTC to pay attention to consumers before allowing the merger deal to happen," he said, "The commission should also launch measures to protect consumers' interests."

Saran Phaloprakarn, Advanced Info Services (AIS) head of the business development department, said NBTC has the authority to decide on the True-Dtac merger.

He added the merger will reduce the number of competitors, which in turn will cut down on promotional campaigns.

Saran added that AIS is ready to continue competing, but the NBTC should determine regulations that benefit all competitors.

Published : May 27, 2022

By : THE NATION