Thailand’s military junta has threatened to block Norway’s Telenor from bidding in the country’s upcoming 4G auctions in retaliation for revealing that it was ordered to block Facebook in the immediate aftermath of last month’s military coup.
Colonel Settapong Malisuwan, deputy head of the Thai Post and Telecommunications Authority, lambasted Telenor’s openness as “inappropriate”, saying that the company “showed no respect for the difficult situation in Thailand”.
He said that a new committee would now scrutinise the shareholder structure of Telenor’s Thai subsidiary DTAC to determine whether it was a suitable bidder in the upcoming 4G auction.
“If we find a violation of the rules, we will take legal action, not just ban them from the 4G auction,” he said.
Tor Odland, the head of Communications for Telenor Asia, told Aftenposten earlier this week exactly how the block had been imposed.
“We received a call from the national telecommunications and broadcasting regulator (NBTC) to temporarily restrict access to Facebook,” he told the newspaper. “Prior to this, a meeting had been held between the regulator and all the major internet providers in Thailand. The restriction was implemented at 3.35pm, and potentially impacted all of DTAC’s 10 million Facebook users.”
Telenor holds a 42.61 percent stake in DTAC, 42.61 per cent in DTAC, comfortably below the 49 percent limit for foreign ownership under Thailand’s telecom laws.
Telenor itself is 53.97 percent owned by the Norwegian government.