Court decision in Thailand in an industry dispute between TOT and dtac regarding Access Charge (Interconnection)

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(Fornebu, 31 May 2019) In Thailand, dtac and some other local mobile operators are involved in an industry dispute with TOT Public Company Limited (TOT) about the calculation of access charge (interconnection) fees to TOT under the access charge agreements. This claim was filed by TOT Plc in 2011 stating that dtac has an obligation to pay to TOT an access charge for the connection of dtac’s subscribers with TOT’s network from 18 November 2006 to 10 July 2014 in the amount of approximately NOK 66 billion, including default interest and VAT.

On 17 May 2006, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) issued a notification (the Notification) applicable to telecommunication licensees. The Notification required the licensees to interconnect with each other on request, where an interconnection provider is entitled to apply an interconnection charge that reflects its costs. dtac is of the opinion that the rates (by not being cost-based) and the collection of access charge under the access charge agreements with TOT were contrary to the law.

Today, on 31 May 2019, the Central Administrative Court (lower court) issued a verdict dismissing TOT’s claim on access charges against dtac in its entirety. The Court views that the access charge rate is against the NBTC Notification on Interconnection (see above) and that the telecommunication operators are required to calculate the interconnection charge rates in accordance with the said NBTC Notification. The dismissal order is not yet final as TOT still has the right to appeal against such court dismissal within the timeframe as provided by law.