Thai mobile operator AIS slammed a proposed merger of True Corp and dtac during a public hearing held by the telecoms regulator, highlighting research indicating market concentration in the country is already high, Bangkok Post reported.

AIS head of business development Saran Phaloprakarn believes the merger would raise the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index, a common measure of market concentration, from 3,575 in September 2021 to 4,706.

Bangkok Post reported the executive branded the figure “a very dangerous level”, noting the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) pegged the standard at 2,500.

He said AIS supports “free and fair competition” which would be curtailed by a merger reducing the number of operators to two.

GSMA Intelligence figures show the combined entity would have 52.4 million subscribers, more than half of the national total of 97.4 million at end-Q1. AIS is the current market leader, with a 45.4 per cent market share.

Bangkok Post reported Saran also highlighted the merged entity’s spectrum holdings would exceed a NBTC cap set for past auctions.

During the last spectrum sale, operators were restricted to a maximum 100MHz in the 2600MHz band and 1200MHz in 26GHz.

Saran reportedly called for NBTC to require remedial measures if the deal is approved.

Operators can transfer spectrum to another player, paying a fee of 1 per cent of the bid price.

A further two hearings are scheduled.