Agenda Setting on Mobile Roaming Rate Control to Promote ASEAN Integration
By Chatchai Mangkornsangkaew*
ASEAN integration mainly aims to promote close collaboration and productive partnership with visually distinctive characteristics for one identity among ASEAN countries. Consequently, there will be free flow of investments, tourists and labors across national border so that a number of linkage journey and communication will be more intense. As a result, a number of mobile calling usage growth among ASEAN-oriented people will be obviously increase. Currently, mobile roaming prices are charged if inter-calling made between visit and home country or any third country.
The main purposes of this study are to examine whether mobile roaming rate control come to be issued or not and what should be in meaning regarding to or not to be the issue, and second what the specific alternative for ASEAN should be made in case of mobile roaming. Agenda setting and alternative generation based logically on policy window model by using documentary research were conducted.
The results show that, in Thailand, mobile service operators are in oligopoly holding tremendously powerful over the telecommunication markets; subsequently such roaming charges are set in high rates. Nowadays, an organized pressure groups and national mood tend to activated campaigns on other customer protection aspects. In governmental view, there is ASEAN ICT Master plan 2015collectively developed by ICT ministers to document an addendum on ASEAN telecommunications regulators council (ATRC) intra-ASEAN mobile roaming rates (MRR) to the record of intent (ROI) in order that the use of mobile calling across the region will be consolidated. Because of considered as private issue, it is rather careless to control roaming rate on government role. On the one hand, there are many attractive alternatives to reduce intra-ASEAN mobile roaming prices varies from negotiation to regulation. As initiated in Singapore-Malaysia case, thus, the reasonable specific alternative of mobile roaming rate control should be an activity which, if possible, could be multilateral to promote greater collaborative for ASEAN integration.
Mobile phones were first introduced in 1986(Anan, 2007, pp.71-79). At that time, they were considered as expensive and heavy weight,largesize electronic devices mostly use in upper societies class; the calling payment is also charged too much costly. They weremarkedly superior to home telephonebecause of no tight constraint about where calling is made and make easy life in globalization world, As a result of using mobile phones , however, there were complicatedboth of how to calculate service fee and how to limit user cost(The Senate, Kingdom of Thailand [Senate], 2008, p.9).Now, with competitive telecommunication industry growing up, operators tend to improve service by making the use easier than that of the past, for example, launched one rate one country promotion, established calling program in second unit charge. Nevertheless, mobile operators are allegedforone-sided take benefit in many challengingstrands. As National Commissions and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) enacted in 2012 to enforce operators reducing upper limit rate of outgoing call bynot over 99 stang/minute for mobile voice service effective on April 4, 2012 but on flexible until January 1, 2013(NBTC Notification (2012), Three principle operators in Thailand have negative trend to breakthe rule, for example, Total Access Communication Public Company Limited (DTAC) has "Sim-Muan-Chen-Tang-Pee package" of all network calling for first two minutes in Thailand with 2 baht/min charged but calling to DTAC from 5 a.m.to 5 p.m. cost 50 stang/minute, or Advance Info Service Public company Limited (AIS) has "Rak-Thuk-Khay package" which is only customer in central and southern parts of Thailand called for first minute in 2 baht and50 stang afterwards, and third, True Corporation Public Company Limited (True Move) has promotion "Buffet unlimitedtalking before night" that is only within True Move network calling from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. charged 139 baht/month in exception of calling other times or other networks charged 2 bath/min and 1 bath/min after that. In addition, there has ever been "bill shock" effect for international roaming of smartphone users by unintentionally internet connection and automatically switching to detect strengthening international network instead of very low domestic network, from 6 p.m., December 31, 2010 to 6 p.m., January 1, 2011, it was shockingcharged more than one hundred thousand bath for only 200 MB("Roaming Problem", p.1).In contrast, with the concept of one single market in European union (EU), It has gradually mobile roaming rate decrease for data package 0.20 Euro/MB and voice usage 0.19 Euro/min next year and finally no mobile roaming charges among European countries.
In late 2015, ASEAN integration will be formally started. Certainly, there will be various aspects changing within ASEAN community, for example zero tax rate under the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) for Tax exception since 2010(National Economic and Social Advisory Council, 2012) , Therefore, it is necessary to prepare for ensured readiness to integration. In socio-cultural community blueprint, It talks about information and communication technology which is of benefit to support education, commerce, investment and so on(The Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN], 2009). For economic community blueprint, It is indicated that to improve potential competitiveness; they have to aware of customers protection in order to ensure that all can access information technology without over payment(ASEAN, 2008). Now, We are at the end of mobile service concession in which operators are monopolized by two public enterprises namely Telephone Organization of Thailand and Telecommunication Authority of Thailand(Senate, 2008, pp.15-16), As a result, It provides appropriate implication for operators extending service capabilities by increasing the number of signal transmit stations, enhancing signal strength in accordance with advance technology and serving higher demand of users in which the number of mobile phone global subscription has reach 2.6 billion and over half of which is coming from Asia Pacific(ASEAN Telecommunication Regulators Council [ATRC], 2011). Although considered as oligopoly business, they still have more powerful over market. It is difficult for new coming operator since exiting operator will take an advantage in market entry barrier in which they are be able to meet customer need and limit possibility for the new one to survive in business competition (Aryut, 2007).
To completely overcome these obstacles, ASEAN ICT Master Plan 2015 has been established and affordable broadband access to every community has been ensured. To achieve this prosperity, they set time frame to study from 2011 to 2013 in objective to lower intra-ASEAN roaming charges to promote the use of mobile broadband across the region(Ministry of Information and Communication Technology [MICT], 2012, pp.27-28). As in the minutes of meeting on September 2010, NBTC accepted workshop in international mobile roaming (IMR) report and submit to MICTto take in to account in cabinet meeting to set as public agenda. Nonetheless, there is now no concrete plan or policy for mobile roaming rate control. In this research is the logical applied to policy window model to study whether mobile roaming is recognized as problem or not and to understand why mobile roaming rate control come to be issued, which groups has contribution in agenda setting, and identify what and why should be the specific alternative for intra-ASEAN mobile roaming rate control is taken consideration.
1. To study whether mobile roaming is recognized as problem or not and to understand why
mobile roaming rate control come to be issued
2. To identify what and why should be specific alternative for intra-ASEAN mobile roaming
rate control taken into consideration
Figure 1 The conceptual framework