The Thailand Consumer Council (TCC) is planning to submit its petition to the country’s regulator against the planned merger between True and Dtac, two mobile phone service giants in Thailand, out of concerns that the merger plan will lead to telecom market control and unfair competition which will not benefit consumers.
TCC Secretary-General Saree Aongsomwang said, today (Tuesday) that the TCC would submit letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) and the Trade Competition Commission to formally inform them of the council’s disagreement with the merger plan which, she pointed out, will give the new combined entity 52 percent of the market share compared to 44 percent by Advanced Info Services (AIS).
True and Dtac, currently, hold six spectrum licenses each for 1,420 and 990 MHz frequencies respectively and have 32 million and 19.3 million mobile phone subscribers respectively. AIS has five spectrum licenses of 270 MHz frequencies and 43.7 million subscribers.
Saree said that the merger of True and Dtac will prevent other players from the competition and will leave consumers with fewer choices for service providers, which is contrary to the NBTC’s announcement.
She claimed that, in several countries, there are 3-4 telecom players in each country” but, here in Thailand, the players will be reduced from three to two”, adding that the NBTC should encourage more players to create fair competition for the benefit of consumers.
She further said that Dtac and True should have formed an alliance to share networks in order to cut operational costs instead of merging together as one larger entity.
Saree admitted that the NBTC might not have the authority to prevent the merger plan, but the TCC , which is mandated by the Constitution, will do its duty at its best capability to protect the interests of the consumers over this issue.
TCC chair Boonyuen Siritham clarified that the TCC is not trying to block the merger plan, but is concerned with benefits of the consumers which may be affected, if not now but in the future, by increasing service charges as a result of price collusion.
On Monday, Norway’s Telenor which is the major shareholder of Dtac and Charoen Pokphand Group which owns True announced an agreement to a potential merger of their two telecom units into a new entity which will make it a new market leader in Thailand overtaking the current Number One AIS.
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