2G networks to be shut down next year

All 5.2 million users of 2G are being given a deadline of October 2019 to move to 3G and 4G phones as the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has ordered the shutdown of the 2G network to make room for the move to 5G. Telecom operators have been told that the transition should not cost users and they may have to subsidize new mobile phones for existing 2G users. They must also prepare all related backup systems for the transition and include new promotional packages. There are 2 million AIS customers still using old handsets using the 2G system, 1 million True Move customers and 2.2 million DTAC customers. Japan shut their 2G system down in 2011, Taiwan and Singapore last year, Australia shut theirs down this year and the US is scheduled to shut 2G down by 2020. Voice and data tariffs are lower for 3G and 4G usage. Thailand is beginning the move to 5G with the planned test of 5G in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) in January. The Digital Economy and Society (DE) Ministry is working with an alliance of private firms and state agencies, including Ericsson, Huawei Technologies, Qualcomm, Intel, Nokia, major telecom operators, the Thai Federation of ICT Technology Association, and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission. AIS, DTAC, and NBTC have been running parallel public test programs.

The Customs Department signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bangkok Bank (BBL), Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), Kasikorn Bank (KBank) and Krungthai Bank (KTB) that will allow taxpayers to pay Customs bills through the banks' online and branch channels. The Customs Department has also joined with KTB to issue the Krungthai Logistics Card which will allow shippers to pay customs taxes and fees on imports and exports, cargo fees for Thai Airways International and Bangkok Flight Services, and pay port fees for the Port Authority and privately owned ports. The Ministry of Commerce is also implementing alternative payment options by offering the ability to pay fees to the Ministry of Commerce at more than 13,000 branches of Counter Service across Thailand from January 21, 2019.

The Thailand Industries Sentiment Index (TISI) hit its highest level in 66 months in November as manufacturers increased production according to the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI). The Index has increased for the past two months as manufacturers have launched their promotional campaigns for the upcoming New Year’s holiday. Manufacturers benefited from a decline in oil prices and a weak baht as well.

The Bank of Thailand hiked its rate for the first time since 2011 by 25 basis points to 1.75 percent up from 1.5 percent. High foreign reserves, a current account surplus and low inflation allowed for the rate to be kept below the US Federal Reserve's benchmark rate to support broad-based economic growth, leaving Thailand one of the last Asian economies to raise its rate. GSB raised its fixed-deposit rates by .25 percent in reaction but commercial banks have no immediate plans to raise their rates but will enter discussions to consider whether or not to follow suit.

Work Permit

Any foreigner working in Thailand must obtain a Work Permit before beginning work. While a prospective employer may file an application on the foreigner’s behalf in advance of his starting work, the actual Work Permit will not be issued until the foreigner has entered Thailand in accordance with the immigration laws and has presented himself to receive his Work Permit.

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