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Thailand - Mobile Communications - Market Overview and Forecasts

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With Thai mobile subscriptions having more than doubled over the past six years, penetration had reached 120% by early 2013. What was once an all-powerful duopoly - AIS and DTAC – was still dominating the market despite the entry of a number of new players. Number three in the market, True Move, has been the only one to challenge the big two in any fashion, however. The market is still in need of regulatory change and the will to address this will be a big factor in shaping the future market. In this regard, after a long wait the market finally welcomed the creation of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). This new regulator must move quickly and firmly to carry out the required reforms. The auctioning of 2100MHz 3G licences has finally happened, with the regulator under considerable pressure from various quarters. The commercial launch and ongoing rollout of the 3G networks is being watched with great interest. This report presents an overview of the Thai mobile market, including some pertinent statistics. It also includes scenario forecasts for mobile subscribers.

Key developments:

the frequency allocation master plan was finalised by the NBTC allowing the proposed 2100MHz 3G auction to proceed and other spectrum related issues to be managed;
the NBTC completed the 2100MHz 3G auction in October 2012 and issues the necessary licences;
the regulator authorised AIS and then both DTAC and True to carry out 4G LTE mobile trials;
the board of NBTC approved the draft of the revised regulations to prevent foreign dominance in the telecom industry and new regulations came into effect;
TrueMove, with its head start in 3G thanks to the network deal with CAT Telecom, decided to use the 2100MHz licence to move straight to a 4G network;
the three major mobile operators agreed to adopt NBTC’s new interconnection regime;
the smartphone market in Thailand was experiencing a major boom in 2012/2013.

Companies covered in this report include:

TOT Corp; CAT Telecom; True Corp; True Move; TT&T; AIS; DTAC; Hutchison CAT.

1. Synopsis
2. Thailand’s mobile market
2.1 Overview
2.1.1 Smartphones
2.1.2 2100MHZ 3G launch marks big change in market
2.2 Mobile statistics
2.3 Competition
2.4 Forecasts
2.4.1 Overview
2.4.2 Forecasts – mobile subscribers – 2015; 2020
3. Regulatory developments
3.1 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
3.2 Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)
3.2.1 Loxley’s MVNO service
3.2.2 AirAsia
3.2.3 I-Mobile Plus
3.3 Interconnection arrangements
3.4 CAT Telecom / TrueMove partnership
3.5 National security
3.6 Frequency spectrum issues
3.7 Tariffs
3.8 Interconnection charges
3.9 Network sharing regulations
3.10 3G roaming agreements
4. Mobile technologies
4.1 CDMA
4.2 PCT service
4.3 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
4.3.1 AIS
4.3.2 DTAC
4.3.3 True
4.4 Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
4.4.1 AIS
4.4.2 DTAC
4.4.3 True
4.5 Third Generation (3G) mobile
4.5.1 3G licensing: background development
4.5.2 Interim arrangements
4.5.3 3G licensing and disputes
4.5.4 TOT’s MVNO strategy
4.5.5 TrueMove H
4.5.6 Roll-out and launch of 3G services
4.6 Fourth Generation (4G) / Long Term Evolution (LTE)
4.6.1 4G development
4.6.2 4G testing and network launches
5. Mobile voice services
5.1 Prepaid
6. Mobile data services
6.1 Overview
6.2 Short Message Service (SMS)
6.3 Multimedia Message Service (MMS)
6.4 Mobile payment schemes
7. Mobile content and applications
7.1 Overview
7.2 Mobile TV
8. Notes on scenario forecasts
9. Related reports
Table 1 – Mobile subscribers – 1999 - 2013
Table 2 – Total 3G mobile subscribers – 2012 - 2013
Table 3 – Mobile services revenue and ARPU – 1998 - 2012
Table 4 – Mobile operators, subscribers and market share – 2012
Table 5 – ARPU (postpaid, prepaid, blended) for major mobile operators – 2010; 2012
Table 6 – Forecast mobile subscribers and penetration rate –2015; 2020
Table 7 – Mobile subscribers – prepaid and postpaid – 2006 - 2012
Chart 1 – Mobile subscribers and ARPU – 2002 - 2010
Chart 2 - Mobile operators, subscribers and market share – 2011
Chart 3 - Mobile subscribers - prepaid and postpaid - 2006-2011
Exhibit 1 – Major mobile operators and foreign shareholders – June 2013

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