Thailand’s telecoms regulator set up a panel to study whether the controversial Line Mobile service, which launched this week after running a three month beta test, is operating legally.
Line Mobile is an independent unit owned by a subsidiary of dtac, the country’s third largest mobile operator, and runs voice and data services on dtac’s mobile network.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) plans to meet with Line Mobile Thailand executives next week and is expected to make a ruling within 30 days, Bangkok Post reported.
NBTC secretary general Takorn Tantasith said it does not want to intervene at an early stage without having all the information, so is seeking further clarification. He said earlier in the week the service will be closely monitored to see if its commercial launch is permitted.
According to Bangkok Post, the country’s two largest mobile players – AIS and True Move – sent letters to the NBTC urging it to make a clear ruling on whether Line Mobile can operate the service without a licence.
AIS chief executive Somchai Lertsutivong said Line Mobile is like an MVNO which requires a licence to operate mobile service. He told Bangkok Post AIS is concerned with the ambiguous definition of Line Mobile, noting the service will affect the industry as other companies will operate mobile businesses without paying licensing fees.
Pavarisa Chumvigrant, Line Mobile Thailand CMO, said Line gave dtac’s unit the rights to use the Line Mobile name. Line Thailand is a unit of Japan-based Line, which runs the popular Line messaging service.
Line Mobile claims users can enjoy lower prices and free Line services including Line Messenger, Line video calls and Line TV, without using their data allocations.
Pavarisa said Line Mobile does not operate under an MVNO model and already consulted with NBTC officials, Bangkok Post reported.