Thailand Intends to Enable the Establishment of a Mobile Duopoly

True and DTAC together account for the bulk of subscribers in the Thai mobile market, with True holding a 34% stake and DTAC a 21% share. The market dynamics at play are still obvious and consistent, it is unclear exactly what it was looking for.

Highlights

  • Supporters reportedly threatened NBTC with legal action if it vetoed the move, which calls its independent regulatory authority into question.
  • The second and third national mobile players will apparently be allowed to join, effectively creating a duopoly.
  • Thai consumers were coerced into caving to their demands by some of the wealthiest citizens of the nation.

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The Bangkok Post reports that True and DTAC together account for the bulk of subscribers in the Thai mobile market, with True holding a 34% stake and DTAC a 21% share, respectively. The current market leader, AIS, now holds a 44% share. As might be expected, the regulator NBTC is attaching a tonne of conditions to the change, but they are unlikely to totally assuage those who deplore the decreased competition and customer choice that will arise from it. Concerns over the merger's potential effects surfaced as soon as it was originally suggested almost a year ago.

Additional Details Regarding the Collaboration

Everything started to look like it was settled by April, but by August, NBTC had decided it wanted to take a closer look. We can only assume that it aimed to improve the remedial measures, most of which appear to include price controls. However, given that the market dynamics at play are still obvious and consistent, it is unclear exactly what it was looking for. The second and third national mobile players will apparently be allowed to join, effectively creating a duopoly, according to the Thai telecoms regulator.

The arguments against the change remain, and the choice appears to be as much a surrender as anything else. The plan's prominent supporters reportedly threatened NBTC with legal action if it vetoed the move, which calls its independent regulatory authority into question, according to Nikkei Asia. The Thailand Consumer Council, on the other hand, appears to be planning to lodge a complaint. It appears very possible that this will turn out to be as much a political issue as a commercial or regulatory one. There will undoubtedly be some sort of public backlash if it appears that the authorities in charge of defending the interests of Thai consumers were coerced into caving to their demands by some of the wealthiest citizens of the nation. If the combination raises prices, the situation will only become worse.

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