NBTC maintains strict stance on prepaid rules

Regulators have reiterated that fines on mobile operators who fail to follow the rules on prepaid registration and top-up card expiry will continue until compliance.

The big three mobile operators are crying foul over the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission’s strict stand, saying they need more time.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasit insisted: “We will not put off the January 18 deadline, which demands mobile operators start properly registering prepaid SIM cards and scrap the expiry date on prepaid mobile credit.

“And the clock is running. The fine has been calculated since Friday.”

The NBTC has ordered a fine of 80,000 baht a day on operators failing to comply with the prepaid registration rule. Section 64 of the Telecom Business Act requires operators to register prepaid customers’ personal data.

The penalty also includes an additional 100,000 baht a day on AIS, DTAC and True Move if they continue to set an expiry date on prepaid mobile services.

The NBTC is threatening to double or triple the fine currently imposed if the non-compliance continues.

Effective from Jan 3, the four operators _ Advanced Info Service (AIS), Total Access Communication (DTAC), TOT Plc and CAT Telecom _ are supposed to pay 14.6 million baht each for retroactive fines dating from July 6, 2012 for failure to comply with registration rules.

Since they continue to set expiry dates for prepaid mobile service, AIS, DTAC and True Move are supposed to pay additional retroactive fines totalling 21.9 million baht each, dating from May 30, 2012 to Jan 3.

Mr Takorn said operators told the NBTC that technical inconvenience would require some time to sort out the issues. But they said customers will see no impact on prepaid service, as the companies are committed to automatically extending the valid period for a prepaid card when the top-up credit nears expiry.

Operators now set a minimum calling credit of 30 days. Extensions will continue to be given over the next few months.

Mr Takorn said operators must resolve the problems as soon as possible.

An NBTC inspection last week of a mobile market at CentralWorld confirmed that operators had yet to comply with both rules.

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