TAS Fines M1 For Unauthorised Frequency Transmission And Issues Warning Over Sale Of SIM-Locked Cellular Phones

  • Date: 08 Sep 1997

Singapore, 8 September 1997 | For Immediate Release

TAS has fined MobileOne (M1) $5,000 for transmitting on a GSM channel without authorisation. It has also warned M1 for a separate incident involving the sale of SIM-locked cellular phones.

On 13 August 1997, TAS detected an unauthorised GSM channel transmission by M1 at Kembangan MRT station. Following this detection, TAS instructed M1 to cease its unauthorised transmission immediately.

A full investigation conducted by TAS reveals that the GSM channel used by M1 was outside the band authorised for their use. The mobile operators' licence conditions require them to seek TAS' prior authorisation before putting any radio frequency into use. Despite being fully aware of this condition, M1 failed to seek TAS' prior approval to use the radio channel. While M1 has acknowledged its unauthorised transmission on the basis that it needed an unused channel for its own operations, TAS does not condone this act since M1's action was deliberate and not accidental. TAS views this as a totally irresponsible act by a licensed public operator. By this irresponsible act, M1 has breached licence conditions 9(2) and 10(1) of its licence, thereby infringing Section 29(1)(a) of the TAS Act. TAS has thus decided to impose a fine of $5,000 which is the maximum fine for general breach of TAS' regulations. In addition, TAS has imposed a frequency fee of $550 for the period M1 was found to be using the frequency in the
unauthorised channel. This is the normal fee which any operator will have to pay for use of the radio frequency during the period.

In a second separate incident, TAS' enforcement officers found that M1's subsidiary company, M1 Shop Pte Ltd, has sold the GSM cellular phones (Nokia 8110) with SIM-lock through their dealers. These SIM-locked phones can only work with the M1 network but not networks of other operators. This act constitutes an anti-competitive behaviour which is disallowed under Condition 23(1) of the licence granted to M1 under the TAS Act.

M1 has explained that 991 Nokia 8110 phones sold to dealers were part of the second shipment of the Nokia phones in March 1997 which were SIM-locked phones due to an oversight of its equipment supplier. M1 has been directed to ensure all such phones be unlocked immediately. As TAS takes a serious view of this incident, TAS and thus has decided to issue a stern warning to M1.

Note to editor:

1.Condition 9(2) of the PCMTS licence granted to M1 states that "any change to the location, equipment, frequencies, emissions, power, polarisation, aerial characteristics and other technical parameters of any radiocommunication station comprised in the System shall be submitted in writing for TAS' prior approval".

Condition 10(1) of the PCMTS licence granted to M1 states that "the licensee shall, in submission to TAS, justify the use of radio frequencies and shall, subject to payment of the required frequency fees, be provided with the necessary frequencies to enable the effective and efficient operation of the System and the provision of the Services by the Licensee".

2.Under Section 29(1)(a) of the TAS Act, TAS can either suspend or cancel the licence, or impose a fine as it deems fit, where TAS is satisfied that the licensee has "contravened any of the conditions of the licence or the provisions of the Act or any regulations thereunder."

3.Condition 23(1) of the PCMTS licence granted to M1 states that "the Licensee shall not enter into any agreement or arrangement whether legally enforceable or not which shall in any way prevent or restrict competition in relation to the operation of the Services provided by the Licensee or any other telecommunication services licensed by TAS".

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