NBTC cancels TOT’s USO Net contracts; bans company from future projects

7 Oct 2019

Thailand’s state-owned enterprise TOT has been banned from participating in all future projects commissioned by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), after the watchdog cancelled three of its contracts under the Universal Service Obligation (USO) Net project, citing contractual violations. The Bangkok Post writes that TOT was awarded the contracts – for the provision of low-cost fixed broadband services in the North Zone 2 (worth THB2.1 billion [USD68.6 million]) and the North Eastern province (THB2.4 billion), and the provision of cellular services in the North Zone 1 (THB1.8 billion) – in an e-auction in 2017. Following an audit of the committee monitoring the USO Net project, it was determined that TOT partially completed the mobile services contract, though the company used the wrong fibre-optic specification for the broadband network scheme, which the committee deemed as ‘unacceptable’. Further, TOT failed to complete the construction of the agreed 371 buildings under the USO Net project, with only three finalised to-date. NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said: ‘TOT failed to complete the tasks required under the ToR [terms of reference], even after one year from the due date … The financial penalty has reached THB800 million.’ Mr Takorn said that the NBTC had no choice but to terminate the contracts to prevent further harm to the public interest, especially in remote areas; the executive added that the NBTC will stage a new e-auction for the three contracts ‘soon’.