Pyramid Points - Thailand mobile market: Still waiting for 3G
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Thailand mobile market: Still waiting for 3G

December 28, 2010

Thailand lags behind many of its neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of 3G deployment, despite having a relatively high GDP per capita (see graph below). This year was supposed to be the year that Thailand caught up, with their much publicized plan to jump from 2G straight to 4G by issuing three 15 MHz licenses, making it possible for operators to deploy 3.5G or 4G networks. But at the last moment, state-owned incumbents TOT and CAT Telecom brought forward the claim that the regulative body, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), did not have the authority to issue the licenses, which was upheld by the Supreme Administrative Court. The late September spectrum auction ground to a halt, and three months later, the Thai government still has not released information on when the auction will take place.

In the meantime, the concessions that the private operators True, AIS, and DTAC have with TOT and CAT are expiring in 2013, 2015, and 2018 respectively. Without the new spectrum the operators’ continued operation could be put in jeopardy. The government is facing pressure to find a way to award the licenses as expeditiously as possible. Pyramid expects that by 2013, Thailand will have made significant inroads toward catching up with the rest of the Asia-Pacific region with 3G network operation. The Thai market has a lot of potential—at this point it’s a matter of waiting for regulation that fosters market growth, rather than dampening it.

You can read more about the prospects for Thailand’s telecom market in this recently published report: Country Intelligence Report: Thailand, December 2010

— Emily Smith, Analyst

Related resources:

Market Factors Indicate Stronger Growth for Multi-SIM Handsets
Global Telecom Insider, Vol. 2, No 3, June 2010 Edition.
This report details the multi-SIM handset segment, why it is important and highlights key developments. It starts by analyzing global subscriptions and SIMs, estimating total multi-SIM ownership and breaking out the main reasons for users to have more than a single SIM. Then we look in more detail at the key driver of multi-SIM ownership, namely cost reduction, and highlight some of the largest multi-SIM markets. We then look at developments on the vendor side, in particular at how the low-cost vendors have managed to dominate the multi-SIM segment, as well as highlight recent innovations and market entrants. This section also provides our estimate of multi-SIM handset sales. We then analyze the view from the operators, including several examples of operators that are using multi-SIM handsets to gain market share. Finally, we summarize with the key conclusions and recommendations, both for vendors and operators.

Multiplay in Asia-Pacific: Operators Improve Positioning and Prepare for FMC
Asia-Pacific Telecom Insider, Vol. 2, No 3, May 2010 Edition.
To deal with stagnating revenue, Asia-Pacific telcos have been looking into other sectors, such as the media industry, for growth opportunities. This is, however, easier said than done, and as pay-TV operators penetrate into business areas once dominated by telcos, the two industries are simply consolidating rather than expanding. Thus, given the bleak prospects for revenue growth, some operators are starting to focus on increasing margins by cutting costs. One strategy they have started implementing is to bundle services as multiplay packages. Some operators are even taking the additional step of aggressively rolling out fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) products. Pyramid Research believes that such strategies will not only achieve short-term goals, such as reducing costs, but also bode well in the long run given government initiatives to reduce household expenditure on telecom services. In addition, governments and regulators in the AP region are realizing that the distinctions between fixed and mobile and telecom and media are blurring and are encouraging consolidation and hence multiplay and FMC services. This insider analyzes how operators are able to reduce churn, lower tariffs and lead industry trends by providing multiplay or FMC services. It also looks closely at three operators in the region that are leaders in the field.

Asia-Pacific Fixed Communications Forecast
Forecasts published quarterly.
The Asia-Pacific Fixed Communications Forecast quantifies fixed voice, Internet and IPTV adoption and service revenues trends, at the residential, corporate and total market level. It tracks demand and projects future growth.


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