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Mobile Phone Traffic Jam To Be Solved

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Telecom regulator comes to grips with call-traffic problem

BANGKOK: -- The National Telecommunications Commission has instructed all mobile-phone operators to present figures today for their inter-network call traffic as well as outlining plans for expansion of inter-network capacity, as part of the commission's efforts to tackle call traffic jams.

NTC deputy secretary-general Manas Songsang, who also chairs the regulator's panel in charge of solving the call congestion, said yesterday that the submissions must cover call traffic from March to the present date.

This will allow the panel to locate the congestion problem, he said after a meeting with all telecom operators to jointly seek a solution to the dropped-call problem.

He said the panel would identify the problem and offer a solution for consideration by the NTC board next Monday.

Over the past few weeks, mobile-phone users have found the need to dial many times before being able to connect with customers of different networks and even with people in their own networks. However, the problem seemed to begin easing yesterday.

Representatives of all cellular operators admit that the congestion stems from heavy call promotions in the current industry atmosphere of intense competition.

Some promotional packages charge subscribers only for the first few minutes of each call, encouraging them to talk for hours at a time.

Last week Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS) and Total Access Communication (DTAC), which account for a combined 70 per cent of the cellular call traffic, revealed that they and True Move had already agreed to expand the capacity of their direct network links to ease the gridlock.

A representative of all cellular operators except AIS yesterday urged the NTC to permit them to fully connect their networks directly, so that they can manage the traffic much more efficiently.

The AIS representative urged the NTC to introduce the interconnection charge regulations as soon as possible to enable direct network connection.

Earlier, the cellular operators were required to connect with one another via TOT, but they created separate and direct links - with TOT's permission - to accommodate rapidly expanding call traffic. However, some operators have occasionally refused to agree with others, to further jointly expand existing direct links to enable a greater traffic flow. The interconnection-charge regulations will oblige all telecom operators to allow others to conveniently connect with their networks.

An NTC expert, Pitjapol Jantanasaro, said the mobile-phone operators should not wait for introduction of the regulations, but should go ahead with solving the call congestion for the sake of subscribers, before the problem gets worse.

The NTC has yet to announce when it will publish the interconnection charge regulations in the Royal Gazette.

--The Nation 2006-05-09

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