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Thailand to draft rules for lower 3G voice prices by Dec.

Regulator will temporarily control prices for 3G services, focusing on voices service first, in response to public concerns over fairness of spectrum auction and on-going legal debate over its validity.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has agreed to temporarily control the prices of 3G services, but only for voice services at the start.

According to Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the NBTC's telecom committee, 3G operators on the 2.1-GHz spectrum must follow the rules for voice tariff rates before the regulator allocates the spectrum, The Bangkok Post reported on Wednesday.

The temporary draft, which states the pricing of 3G services for voice by at least 15 to 20 percent, is expected to be completed by mid-December, Malisuwan said.

Separately, The three 3G bid winners will have to declare their real cost of operations including the licence fee, network rollout plan and interconnection charge to the regulator by the end of November.

A final draft governing 3G for both voice and data services will be completed by mid-2013, Malisuwan added.

This comes after the the 3G spectrum auction held on Oct. 16, reportedly unfairly rewarded private operators at the expense of consumers and the state. The NBTC then released a statement of intent about limiting 3G prices to help calm public concerns.

Last month, the regulator had already instructed the three local telcos to drop their mobile services prices by 15 percent to 20 percent and ensure service quality measures are in place before launching 3G offerings.

A 3G tariff cut of 20 percent will save consumers 73.1 billion baht (US$2.3 billion) a year, or 1 trillion baht (US$32 billion) over the 15-year life of the licenses, Malisuwan noted. The measures set to protect public interest will also be more in line with Thailand's Telecom Business Act.




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