Tue, Mar 26, 2002 - Page 17 News List

DTAC may be shut down by officials

AFP , BANGKOK

Two woman look at a mobile phone advertisement in Bangkok yesterday. Officials warned then that unless DTAC, the country's second-largest cellular operator, paid outstanding charges of 1 billion baht (US$23 million) by April 28, DTAC's connections to phone networks would be cut.

PHOTO: AFP

Thai telecoms authorities said yesterday they would meet with rebel mobile phone operator Total Access Communications (DTAC) in a bid to resolve a row over its refusal to pay access charges.

The Telephone Organization of Thailand (TOT) has threatened to cut DTAC's connections to fixed line and other mobile phone networks on April 28 unless it pays outstanding charges of 1 billion baht (US$23 million).

DTAC has argued that the access charges are unfair and violate Thailand's telecommunications law which guarantees equal treatment to operators by state agencies.

TOT president Sutham Malila said officials from the state-owned telecoms provider and representatives from the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT) would hold crisis talks with DTAC.

"TOT and CAT will meet with DTAC to find a solution," he said, without naming a meeting date.

DTAC, the country's second-largest cellular operator with some three million subscribers, said last Friday that it would refuse to pay the fees, which have accumulated since Nov. 17.

However, CAT executive president Dhiraphongs Suddhinond reassured subscribers that it would ensure continuous service for their phone connections.

DTAC, TA Orange, and Digital Phone Co are required to pay monthly access fees of roughly 200 baht (US$4.60) for each subscriber. DTAC says that Advanced Info Service, part of a communications conglomerate owned by the family of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, is exempt from the charges.

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