Thailand’s mobile market should be fully liberalised to end a profit-maximising monopoly dominated by the three operators, says the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI).
Research director Deunden Nikomborirak said three big players _ Advanced Info Service, Total Access Communication and True Move _ have controlled the 200-billion-baht market for too long.
The third-generation licence auction for the 2100-megahertz frequency coming up in October is no guarantee that newcomers will join the bidding, she said.
“The existing telecom regulations of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) have failed to encourage foreign investors to jump into the market,” said Dr Deunden.
“We [the TDRI] want to see full liberalisation of the Thai cellular market.”
She suggests the NBTC accelerate plans for sharing telecommunications infrastructure and cellular towers, a move she feels would attract foreign participation in the auction.
“The more money the government obtains from the bidding, the more it will benefit consumers,”said Dr Deunden.
She disagrees with the NBTC’s move to amend foreign-ownership rules in the local, capital-intensive telecommunications industry, saying the new rules would discourage strategic international alliances.
Toughening existing curbs under the Foreign Business Act (FBA) could reduce market competition, said Dr Deunden.
The FBA caps foreign holdings in Thai telecom firms at 49%.
“I see no reason to restrict foreign ownership in Thailand’s telecom industry. The industry should be liberalised to free up the market,” she said.
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