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DTAC launches 3G service despite CAT breach of contract threat

CAT Telecom has given Total Access Communication (DTAC) 90 days from yesterday to shut down its third-generation wireless broadband service or the state agency will file a complaint with an arbitration panel alleging breach of contract.

CAT chief executive officer Jirayuth Rungsrithong said that if during next 90 days the Office of the Attorney-General advised the agency that DTAC’s launch of the commercial service was acceptable under the terms of its concession, the service would be allowed to continue.

The minister of information and communications technology, Anudith Nakornthap, who took office yesterday, said he would have to look into the dispute between CAT and DTAC or risk facing a charge of negligence of duty.

He added that he would treat both CAT and DTAC fairly based on regulations and their contract.

Jirayuth said CAT could not order its concession holder to stop the service immediately, which was launched yesterday in Bangkok on 400 base stations.

DTAC said the service would continue. The telecom has already pointed out that if it holds back on the service, it risks losing premium customers to rivals Real Move and Advanced Info Service, which have already fully launched their 3G services.

However, CAT again yesterday urged DTAC to wait for the decision by the Office of the Attorney-General on the matter before going ahead with the commercial 3G service on the 850-megahertz spectrum. CAT made its first urgent request to DTAC on this issue last Thursday.

DTAC estimates that it has about 400,000 subscribers in Bangkok who use compatible 3G-850MHz mobile phones.

Real Move debuted its service under deals CAT signed with it and Real Future in January to develop a commercial 3G service jointly. Real Move and Real Future are wholly owned subsidiaries of True Corp. In April, DTAC filed a complaint against CAT and its board on the legitimacy of the deals.

Anudith said he would also look into details of the CAT-True deals.

Many ICT executives paid courtesy calls to Anudith yesterday, but not from DTAC or True.

DTAC has insisted that it can launch its commercial 3G service under the permit it secured from the National Telecommunications Commission to install and use a 3G-HSPA (high speed packet access) network.

DTAC has waited for a CAT permit for the commercial launch since 2008 but so far CAT has only granted it permission it to run the service on a non-commercial trial basis.

Source: The Nation

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