AIS threatens lawsuit over claims

Market leader Advanced Info Service yesterday broke its silence to respond to rival mobile phone operators' accusations of unfair competition, saying the claims were one-sided and had tarnished its corporate image. It called on its rivals to stop spreading hostile stories and threatened to take legal action over damage to its reputation.

It said it would also ask the National Telecommunications Commission to investigate whether the earlier sale of radio bandwidth by DTAC to True Move and Digital Phone was justified.

Second-ranked DTAC and No. 3 True Move last week accused AIS of having benefited at the expense of its competitors from revisions to its concession from the state telecom enterprise TOT Plc.

AIS executive chairman Somprasong Boonyachai said the comments did not tell the whole story.

''We have been silent all along but now it's time to speak the truth because our rivals chose to speak only about what they thought would be beneficial to them,'' he said at a news conference.

''We are consulting with our legal advisers to see what court action could be taken because now we are already being branded as a bad guy in society.''

He explained that the concession agreements _ AIS with TOT, and DTAC and True Move with CAT Telecom _ had been signed at different times and under different terms and that AIS had no influence over other companies' agreements.

No one forced DTAC and True Move to sign their agreements and if they wanted to make changes they should approach CAT Telecom, he said.

AIS president Wichien Mektrakarn said he would ask the NTC to investigate the sale of bandwidth to True Move and Digital Phone (DPC) by DTAC.

He said DTAC had been allocated 75 Megahertz by CAT Telecom, considered a very generous allotment, and later sold 12.5 MHz each to True Move and DPC, then part of the Samart Group but later acquired by AIS. Now DTAC still has 50 MHz of unused bandwidth while AIS has only 17.5 MHz, he said.

He questioned why DTAC did not return the unused bandwidth to the state because the allocation clearly exceeded its needs.

Sigve Brekke, the chief executive of DTAC, countered that in 1996, DTAC returned 25 Mhz out of its 75 Mhz to CAT Telecom for free, as a good-faith gesture to the state telecom agency for its policy to open the local mobile-phone market.

But he said AIS has never returned any extra spectrum to TOT Plc despite the fact that the company had a monopoly on the 900 Mhz bandwidth.

At the time, CAT Telecom issued concessions for two new mobile operators: WCS and DPC, allocating 12.5 MHz each.

DTAC subsequently signed a domestic roaming agreement with DPC in 1997 by allowing the company to use the DTAC network nationwide in exchange for a fee based on calling traffic.

But after AIS took over DPC in 2001, it stopped paying the roaming fee to DTAC, reasoning DPC was bankrupt.

''DTAC has so far lost 4.7 billion baht on roaming fees,'' Mr Brekke said, adding that the matter was now before arbitration panel.

From : The Bangkok Post
By : PLA
Date : Nov 14, 2006

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