Tuesday, March 27, 2007

CAT union protests AIS licence


The CAT Telecom union yesterday held a rally to protest against a decision by the National Telecommunications Commission to give an international call licence to Advanced Info Service.

The union claimed the entry of AIS, the country's largest mobile operator, would cause CAT's outbound international traffic to drop by more than 60% in just over a week. The union also questioned whether the international call service offered by AIS was subsidised and considered unfair competition.

But AIS president Wichien Mektrakarn said it had not yet offered international calling but was just in a trial period.

CAT union leader Wattana Eiambumroong said that since the NTC granted a licence to AIS to provide international call services via the 005 code earlier this month, international calls operated by CAT had been directly hurt.

He said AIS did not notify its 20 million mobile phone users that while they pushed "+" for access to the service, the traffic was diverted to the international call service of AIS instead of CAT's 001 code.

"Is this another type of subsidy by AIS or unfair competition?" he asked.

Pushing the "+" for international call service would persuade customers to think the call will be routed to the CAT 001 channel while in fact it will not.

In just 10 days of service, CAT's international call traffic dropped by 62%, or 70 million baht, per day, he said.

Customers also complained to CAT about poor quality service, while in fact AIS handled the calls, he said.

AIS never advertised the services to the public, thus creating a misunderstanding and causing damage to CAT's image, Mr Wattana added.

Mr Wichien said the company had told the NTC its trial service was just temporary.

In the future, when the service is officially launched, AIS would inform its customers of all details on how to use AIS services or CAT services.

He said that AIS had rented overseas international gateways. If the company launches a fully fledged service, the traffic still has to be routed through the CAT international gateway.

In the initial stage, he said, AIS would route its traffic to Hong Kong and China before connecting with other destinations worldwide.

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