Mobile regulators given until June to improve their services
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), through its vice-chairman Colonel Settapong Malisuwan, announced it would be taking a harder line with the three major mobile operators in the country.
The NBTC said Advanced Info Service (AIS), Total Access Communication, and True Move, the three leading mobile operators in Thailand, would need to enhance the quality of their voice and data services to reach internationally accepted standards before a set of new regulations come into effect in June this year.
These regulations are designed to provide additional protection for mobile users and designed to put strict procedures in place which will require mobile operators to supply a minimum successful connection rate of 85 percent in all service areas.
Colonel Settapong claimed if the operators failed to adhere to the new regulations they would face large penalties and the possibility of having their licence revoked. Of course, the unasked and unanswered question is ‘wouldn’t the people backing the mobile operators be a little too powerful behind the scenes to face having their licence revoked?’
The NBTC said the new regulations have been promulgated following a large number of complaints by consumers about the poor quality of voice services and the speed of mobile data, which has dropped to between 64 ans 128 kilobits per second (kps) in recent times.
With mobile data consumption skyrocketing by a massive 300 percent in 2013, mobile operators were caught unprepared. This massive increase was due to the full take-up of the 3G (third generation) wireless broadband market.
All operators have adopted what is called a ‘fair use’ policy for all consumers who pay for an unlimited package with 3G. This is basically a fixed amount of data transfer, between one and five gigabytes per month, maximum. After this figure is exceeded, speeds drop to 2G or even Edge levels.
The NBTC says a large number of mobile users have claimed they have not been receiving the promised data levels and aren’t even getting the minimum 345 kps as stipulated by the regulatory authority.
Under existing regulations, consumers on the 2100-megahertz spectrum of the 3G network are supposed to have a minimum 345 kps for downloads and at least 153 kps for uploads.
Instead, the NBTC has been deluged with complaints from consumers who claim the three main operators have been promoting packages offering just 64 kps download speeds.
A licencing auction for the 4G network is due to take place in September and the NBTC board claims it is determined to try and raise service standards to a higher level across the country within the 3G network before the auction can begin.