NBTC clears AIS-3BB merger with 5-year cap on broadband pricing

NBTC clears AIS-3BB merger with 5-year cap on broadband pricing

Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) board greenlighted the merger of Advanced Info Service (AIS) and Triple T Broadband (3BB) on Friday, so long as it doesn’t raise broadband prices for the next five years.

AIS broadband subsidiary Advanced Wireless Network (AWN) struck a deal in July 2022 to acquire 100% of 3BB, along with a 19% stake in Jasmine Broadband Internet Infrastructure Fund (JASIF). The merger makes AIS the biggest fixed broadband player in Thailand with 4.69 million subscribers, displacing True Corp, which has 3.8 million fixed broadband subscribers.

The NBTC board had already approved the plan in principle, but only officially reviewed the plan as part of its agenda last week. While the board was expected to officially bless the merger, it was also expected to issue conditions related to antitrust and consumer protection regulations.

According to The Nation, the board said that AWN must maintain its pre-merger fixed broadband price packages for at least five years while also maintaining service quality. AWN also must allow for free competition from smaller players and allow them to lease its network.

The NBTC board also said AWN needs to invest a minimum of 10 billion baht (US$286 million) to extend fixed and fixed wireless broadband services to unserved areas.

Last week, AIS said it will leverage 3BB infrastructure to enhance broadband access to over 13 million households as part of an overarching network evolution strategy. That plan didn’t mention anything specifically related to rural coverage in unserved areas.

According to the Bangkok Post, citing anonymous sources, AIS now aims to complete the procedures and paperwork for the merger by this Wednesday, to include a loan to pay for the acquisition.

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