TOT, 3 mobile operators ordered to pay Bt50 million fine

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BANGKOK, Jan 3 – Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) today ordered state-owned TOT and three major mobile operators to pay a combined fine of more than Bt50 million for breaching the law on mobile services to their customers.

Thakorn Tantasith, NBTC secretary general, said TOT was ordered to sign an interconnection (IC) agreement with Total Access Communication (DTAC) but it failed to do so, subjecting the state corporation to a fine of Bt20,000 per day, retroactive to Oct 8, 2010.

As of today, the fine has accumulated to Bt16.38 million and TOT will have to pay even more than that despite the ongoing dispute pending the final verdict of the Supreme Administrative Court,  Mr Thakorn said.

The Appeals Administrative Court earlier ruled that TOT enter an IC agreement with DTAC but TOT chose to appeal.

TOT and DTAC are in negotiations which should conclude soon, he said.

He said three mobile operators – Advance Info Service (AIS), DTAC and TrueMove – failed to follow an NBTC order to collect data and register personal details of their prepaid customers.

Each operator is subject to a fine of Bt80,000 per day, retroactive from July 6 last year, Mr Thakorn said, adding that the total fine from the three operators as of today is Bt14.56 million, or Bt3.64 million each.

The daily Bt80,000 fine will be in force until the day they pay, he said.

NBTC, he added, prohibited mobile operators from setting expiry date on prepaid cards but they ignored the warning, compelling them to a daily fine of Bt10,000, retroactive from May 30 last year.

Until yesterday, the fine amounted to Bt21.9 million, or Bt7.3 million for each operator.

Mr Thakorn said the orders were meant to protect consumers while mobile operators will be invited for talks and asked to pay the fine.

“The NBTC is not a paper tiger but its order is not final. Mobile operators have the right to seek justice from the Administrative Court,” he explained.