Mobile growth subsides in Thailand in a saturated market

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LONDON, Nov. 15, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The country’s telecom industry has undergone a period of strong growth which has started to moderate in the last few years. The mobile market has been a case in point growing by substantial amounts annually and passing the 100% penetration milestone.

While the country has gained considerably from a liberalised telecoms sector, there still remains much work to be done on regulatory reform. Of particular concern was the respective roles into the future of the two state-owned enterprises – TOT and CAT; it was not clear how the government was going to handle the reforms needed in this regard.

The number of fixed lines in Thailand continues to gradually decline driven by and expanding mobile market. Penetration has decreased from 8.85 and 5.69 million lines in 2014 to 7.7% and 5.2 million fixed lines in 2016.

The governments plans to invest 10 billion baht towards improving the nations telecom infrastructure as part of its digital economy strategy. The government aims to double Thailands internet-connected population to 40 million users by 2018.

4G services continue to be rolled out in Thailand. TrueCorp will invest significantly in its 4G LTE over two years to 2018. AIS launched 4G LTE services as it switched on LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network technology covering Bangkok. AIS won the re-auction of a 900MHz technology-neutral (4G) mobile spectrum licence.

Mobile broadband grew very strongly in Thailand from 2012 to 2014, with penetration increasing from 11% in 2012 to 80% in 2014, in line with a growing mobile subscriber market. However since then penetration has subsided to 74% in 2016, in line with contraction in the mobile subscriber market.

Thailand’ss mobile market is highly saturated and mature. Market penetration has peaked in 2014 at 146% and has declined over the next two years to 132% in 2015 and 128% in 2016 due to market consolidation. The market is expected to see slow growth over the next five years to 2021.

Competition for subscribers intensified with all operators progressively cutting tariffs; this in turn squeezed profit margins. The result has been continuously falling Average Revenue per User (ARPU). The introduction of customer retention programs coupled with value-added services has significantly reduced the high churn levels experienced in earlier years.

The Thailand market has witnessed reasonably strong growth in the fixed broadband market over the past few years from a relatively small base. Market penetration has increased from 6.8% in 2012 to 8.1% in 2014, 9.2% in 2015 and 10.3% in 2016. Fixed broadband market penetration is forecast to grow strongly over the next few years to 2021.

From 2016 the Thai government is focussed on Phuket as its first smart city project. This aligns closely with its national policy of building a digital economy and a digital society. The Phuket smart city pilot project will initially zero in on digital infrastructure development, construction of a data centre and enhancement of the islands established tourism industry.

The governments plans to invest 10 billion baht towards improving the nations telecom infrastructure as part of its digital economy strategy. The government aims to double Thailands internet-connected population to 40 million users within the next three years.

Key developments:

Mobile subscriber penetration saw a significant fall in 2014 to 2016.
DTAC has a THB14 billion investment in 3G/4G network expansion totalling 6,500 sites nationwide.
NTT Com has launched a mobile data-only service for corporations in Thailand under a MVNO licence.
AIS launched 4G LTE services as it switched on LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network technology covering Bangkok.
Mobile subscriber penetration saw a significant fall in 2014 to 2016.
NTT Com has launched a mobile data-only service for corporations in Thailand under a MVNO licence.
AIS won the re-auction of a 900MHz technology-neutral (4G) mobile spectrum licence.
WiFi continues to grow strongly in Thailand. AIS is rolling out ‘Super Wi-Fi’ access points, enabling data transfer at up to 650Mb/s.
Cable Thai Holding (CTH), which had been running at a loss pay TV operating group, shut down its pay TV services.

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