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Thailand - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

Hope that Thailand’s new regulator will give fresh direction to country’s telecom market

The one single feature that characterises the Thai telecom industry has arguably been the stop-start approach to sector reform and re-regulation. An important step was taken with the Telecommunications Act being adopted as law back in 2000, but over the last decade or so successive governments have moved slowly on its implementation. By 2011 a range of deregulation issues were still crying out to be confronted. One of the big structural reform issues – the defining of the roles and the restructuring of TOT and CAT – was demanding urgent attention. In fairness to the industry regulator at the time, the industry over the years has not seen a sustained period of consistent policy direction from government. The market had been waiting a long time for the creation of the promised new regulator as well as the allocation of 3G spectrum.

Thailand finally got its new regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), in September 2011. With the appointment of the board members, the new commission was able to start operating in its defined role. The commission’s first half year of operation certainly saw a lot of positive action. And most importantly the 3G licence auction looked set to proceed in late 2012.

Thailand’s mobile market has experienced a slowing of demand since 2009, after a period of sustained strong growth. With some easing in the expansion anticipated anyway as the market passed the 100% penetration milestone, the demand for service has been negatively affected by a major downturn in the Thai economy. Growth had already slowed from a few years earlier as the market’s long run of robust expansion, a run that had started in 2000, was probably coming to a close. As growth in the mobile market began to slow, the operators were hoping that long awaited 3G licences would help stimulate fresh business growth for them.

The Thai internet market is continuing on its growth path of the last number of years. The demand for internet and internet-related services has finally begun to increase as evidenced by the expanding volume of international bandwidth. Recognising that the surge in services has been occurring from a relatively low base, Thailand still has a lot of development work to do to catch up to some of the other countries in the region. The country’s estimated PC penetration rate, for example, was still only around 20% at end-2011 and, although moving rapidly, the development of high-speed access had really only just started. Operators were looking at a variety of delivery methods to augment internet penetration. The burgeoning mobile market in Thailand ensured that mobile phones, as well as set-top boxes, were high on the list of potential delivery devices. At the same time, the cybercafe in its different forms had already established itself as a key element in the country’s access equation.

Coming into 2012 the Thailand’s telecom/internet sector was looking quite battered. The Thai economy having suffered a major setback with the devastating floods in 2011, the ongoing global economic uncertainties were making for a generally gloomy outlook. Not surprisingly services providers in ICT the industry were finding it difficult to maintain healthy revenue growth. There were some bright spots in the market, however, with the launch of new generation services and smart device adoption. One forecast put Thailand’s ICT market at US$16.8 billion in 2012, representing growth of over 10% for the year, with mobile data the key growth factor. Thailand’s smartphone and tablet markets were expected to gain momentum. And of course, the big mobile operators have started their trial 3G services.

Market highlights:

Thailand’s mobile market had reached 79 million subscribers coming into 2012, for an overall penetration of 113%.

After more than eight straight years of strong growth, the annual increase in the mobile subscriber numbers had eased substantially in 2009/10 as the national economy slowed.

After mobile subscriber growth settled at 10% in 2011, a similar expansion was set for 2012.

The NTC was replaced as regulator by the NBTC in late 2011 finally clearing the way for 3G mobile licences to be issued by way of an auction, probably in late 2012.

The broadband internet market in Thailand further strong subscriber growth in 2011, an annual rate of around 25% being the pattern.

There was also a surge in demand for smartphones in late 2011 and into 2012; all the indications were a change in user behaviour was happening, especially with the increasing use of mobile data services.

Overall fixed broadband penetration was still relatively low - 6% in early 2012.

The fixed-line market was showing no signs of revival, with growth going negative in 2011 and an early return to positive growth seeming unlikely.

The Thai telecom market has been dogged recently by accusations of corrupt, illegal and/or inappropriate behaviour by various parties in the industry. The most high profile of these cases concerned the CAT-True deal over 3G network contracts in early 2011.

Foreign investors had become wary of the Thai telecom market on the back of regulations that were aimed at limiting foreign control of operators.

Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.


  • EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
    • Table Thailand: - key telecom parameters - 2011 - 2012
  • KEY STATISTICS
    • Table Country statistics - 2012
    • Table Telephone network statistics - 2011
    • Table Internet user statistics - 2011
    • Table Broadband statistics - 2011
    • Table Mobile statistics - 2011
    • Table National telecommunications authorities
  • COUNTRY OVERVIEW
    • BACKGROUND
    • ECONOMY
      • Table Thailand's real GDP growth rate - 2006 - 2013
      • Severe flooding in 2011
  • TELECOMMUNICATIONS MARKET
    • OVERVIEW
    • BACKGROUND
    • POLITICAL TURMOIL AND ITS IMPACT ON THE TELECOM SECTOR
    • GOVERNMENT CONTROLS OVER THE INTERNET
  • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
    • REGULATORY REFORM
      • Background
      • Telecommunications Act 2001
      • Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MICT)
    • REGULATORY AUTHORITIES
      • National Telecommunications Commission (NTC)
      • National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC)
      • Master Plans (including Frequency Allocation Master Plan)
    • REGULATORY DEVELOPMENTS: 2011 / 2012
      • Service quality
      • Concession conversion
      • Foreign ownership
      • Social media
      • Registration of prepaid SIMs
      • CAT-True deal: ruled `illegal'
      • CAT-True deal: 3G licence at risk
      • True-Hutchison controversy
      • CAT v. DTAC dispute
    • REGULATORY DEVELOPMENTS: PRE-2011
      • Concession conversion
      • Taxation
      • Privatisation
      • Foreign ownership
      • Interconnection charges
      • National numbering scheme
      • Internet gateways
      • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
      • Third generation (3G) mobile licences
      • WiMAX
      • Registration of prepaid SIMs
    • REGULATORY DISPUTES
  • FIXED NETWORK MARKET
    • BACKGROUND
      • Table Fixed lines and teledensity - 1995 - 2012
      • Table Estimated fixed-line subscribers by operator - 2011
      • Table Estimated fixed-line subscribers - metro vs provincial - 2011
    • NEXT GENERATION NETWORK (NGN)
      • Public payphones
        • Table Public payphones in service - 2004 - 2011
        • Table Public payphones by provider - 2011
    • INTERNATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Overview
      • Submarine cable networks
        • Table Submarine cable networks - 2011
      • Submarine cable systems under construction or proposed
      • Submarine cable outages
      • Satellite networks
        • Table Thaicom's satellite network - 2011
  • MAJOR OPERATORS
    • MARKET OVERVIEW
      • Table Major operators by market segment
    • BACKGROUND
    • MOBILE MARKET
      • CAT and TOT
        • Table Fixed-line operators and subscribers - 2009; 2011
        • Table Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change - 2011
        • Table Mobile operators, subscribers and market share - 2011
        • Table Other mobile operators, subscribers and annual change - March 2009
        • Table Monthly ARPU (postpaid, prepaid, blended) for major mobile operators - 2011
    • MAJOR OPERATORS
      • Advanced Info Service (AIS)
        • Table AIS: subscribers and market share - 2004; 2007 - 2012
        • Table AIS: mobile subscribers and ARPU (postpaid and prepaid) - March 2012
        • Table AIS: ARPU (postpaid, prepaid and blended) - 2007 - 2012
        • Table AIS: number of data users - 2008 - 2012
        • Table AIS: proportion of revenue from non-voice - 2008 - 2012
        • Table AIS: capital expenditure - 2008 - 2012
      • DTAC
        • Table DTAC: subscribers and market share - 2002 - 2003; 2005 - 2012
        • Table DTAC: mobile subscribers and ARPU (postpaid and prepaid) - 2011
        • Table DTAC: ARPU (postpaid, prepaid and blended) - 2008 - 2011
      • True Corp
        • Table True Corp's major shareholders - April 2011
        • Table True's total revenues - 2004 - 2011
        • Table True Corp: capital expenditure - 2007 - 2011
        • Table True's fixed-line subscribers - 2004 - 2011
        • Table True's fixed line ARPU - 2004 - 2011
        • Table True's payphone ARPU - 2004 - 2011
        • Table True Move: subscribers and market share - 2004 - 2012
        • Table True Move: mobile subscribers and ARPU (postpaid and prepaid) - September 2011
        • Table True Move: ARPU (postpaid, prepaid and blended) - 2007 - 2011
        • Table True Move: proportion of revenue from non-voice - 2008 - 2011
        • Table True's PCT subscribers - 2004 - 2011
        • Table True's fixed internet subscribers - 2003 - 2011
        • Table True's broadband subscribers - 2001 - 2012
      • Telephone Organization of Thailand Corp (TOT)
        • Table TOT's fixed-line subscribers - 2005 - 2011
        • Table TOT's total revenues - 2005 - 2011
        • Table TOT's payphones - 2005 - 2011
        • Table TOT's broadband services - 2007 - 2011
        • Table TOT's broadband internet ports in service - 2010
      • Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT)
        • Table CAT Telecom's subscriber growth - 2006 - 2009
        • Table Hutchison CAT: subscribers and market share - 2003; 2007 - 2010
      • Thai Mobile, TOT and CAT
        • Table Thai Mobile Telecom's subscriber growth - 2002 - 2009
      • TT&T
        • Table Triple T Broadband's subscribers - 2004; 2007 - 2009
  • TELECOMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE
    • NATIONAL TELECOM NETWORK
      • Overview
  • INTERNET MARKET
    • OVERVIEW
    • ONE TABLET PER CHILD (OTPC) PROJECT
    • LESE MAJESTE LAWS
    • INTERNET STATISTICS
      • Table Internet users - 1996 - 2012
      • Table Internet subscribers - 1997 - 2012
      • Table International internet bandwidth - 2000 - 2011
    • ISP MARKET
      • Overview
        • Table ISPs operated by telecom companies
      • Market restructuring
    • THAILAND'S INTERNET GATEWAY EXCHANGES
      • Overview
      • Opening up of gateway market
        • Table International internet gateway operators in Thailand - 2011
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
    • VOICE OVER INTERNET PROTOCOL (VOIP)
  • BROADBAND MARKET
    • OVERVIEW
      • Table Fixed broadband subscribers and households - 2011
      • Table Fixed broadband subscribers and penetration - 2001 - 2012
      • Table Major fixed broadband players and subscribers - 2011
      • Table DSL subscribers - 2002 - 2011
    • TRUE ONLINE
      • Table True - fixed broadband subscribers - 2010 - 2011
    • NATIONAL BROADBAND POLICY
      • True's fixed broadband project
    • DIGITAL SUBSCRIBER LINE (DSL)
    • CABLE MODEM
    • INTERNET VIA SATELLITE
    • WIRELESS INTERNET
      • WiFi
      • WiMAX
    • FIBRE-TO-THE-HOME (FTTH)
  • DIGITAL MEDIA / DIGITAL ECONOMY
    • BROADCASTING MARKET
      • Overview
        • Table Key broadcasting statistics - 2011
      • Regulatory environment
      • Digital TV
      • Internet Protocol Television (IPTV)
      • Free-to-Air (FTA) TV
        • Table FTA TV Broadcasters
      • Pay TV
        • Table Pay TV subscribers - 1996 - 2002
        • Table Pay TV subscribers by platform - 2002 - 2011
        • Table True Visions - pay TV subscribers - 1998 - 2011
        • Table True Visions - total and FTA subscribers - 2007 - 2011
        • Table True Visions - pay TV ARPU - 2003 - 2011
  • MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS
    • OVERVIEW
      • Smartphones
        • Table Mobile subscribers - 1999 - 2012
        • Table Mobile services revenue and ARPU - 1998 - 2012
        • Table Mobile operators, subscribers and market share - 2011
        • Table ARPU (postpaid, prepaid, blended) for major mobile operators - 2010 - 2011
    • COMPETITION
      • Table Major mobile operators and foreign shareholders - 2010
    • REGULATORY DEVELOPMENTS
      • Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
      • Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)
      • Interconnection arrangements
      • National security
    • MOBILE TECHNOLOGIES
      • CDMA
      • PCT service
      • General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
      • Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
      • Third Generation (3G) mobile
      • Fourth Generation (4G) / Long Term Evolution (LTE)
    • MOBILE VOICE SERVICES
      • Prepaid
        • Table Mobile subscribers - prepaid and postpaid - 2006 - 2011
    • MOBILE DATA SERVICES
      • Overview
      • Short Message Service (SMS)
      • Multimedia Message Service (MMS)
    • MOBILE CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS
      • Overview
      • Mobile TV
  • FORECASTS
    • FORECASTS - FIXED-LINE SUBSCRIBERS - 2015; 2020
      • Table Forecast fixed-line subscribers and penetration rate - 2015; 2020
    • INTERNET FORECASTS
      • Overview
      • Forecasts - internet subscribers - 2015; 2020
        • Table Forecast internet subscribers and penetration rate - 2015; 2020
    • MOBILE FORECASTS
      • Overview
      • Forecasts - mobile subscribers - 2015; 2020
        • Table Forecast mobile subscribers and penetration rate -2015; 2020
  • GLOSSARY OF ABBREVIATIONS

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