2009 Thailand - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts

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Last updated: 8 Feb 2010 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 138

Analyst: Peter Evans

Publication Overview

This report provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications and digital media markets in India. Subjects covered include:

·         Key statistics;

·         Market and industry overviews;

·         Regulatory environment;

·         Major players (fixed and mobile);

·         Infrastructure development – national and international;

·         Convergence and digital media;

·         Mobile voice and data market;

·         Internet, including VoIP and IPTV;

·         Broadband services;

·         Telecom market forecasts.

 

Researcher:- Peter Evans

Current publication date:- January 2010 (15th Edition)

Next publication date:- March 2011

Executive Summary

After almost a decade of strong growth in its telecom sector, Thailand was starting to feel the impact of a serious economic downturn in 2008/09. By early 2009, there had been a major cooling in demand for mobile services, mobile penetration having reached 100% by that stage. Fixed-line development was virtually non-existent, despite the government’s keenness in promoting this. There had been some interesting activity however in the broadband Internet market but this was essentially high growth off a relatively small base. In the wider telecom sector, there was a feeling that a loss of direction was creeping into the market.

 

If any one thing characterises the Thai telecom industry it is probably 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 the government had moved slowly on its implementation. Most critically it was not until late 2004 that the mooted new telecom regulator, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), was finally set up and working. Since then some good work has been done in the regulatory area; however, both foreign and local companies have been frustrated by the delays in reform and the uncertainty that these delays create has been a headache for all concerned.

 

By 2009 a range of deregulation issues still needed to be confronted. One of the big structural reform issues – the defining of the roles and the restructuring of the Telephone Organization of Thailand (TOT) and the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT) – was still demanding urgent attention. In fairness to the NTC, though, the regulatory environment has not had a sustained period of consistent policy since the commission was established.

 

After the NTC initially commenced operations, it inevitably took time to get up to speed. Naturally, too, it was looking for consistent direction from the government. But this has not been forthcoming. First, the military overthrew the Shinawatra government in late 2006; then the interim government that followed was replaced by an elected government in late 2007. The new Samak government was then dismissed and the ruling People’s Power Party dissolved by decisions of the constitutional court just 12 months later.

 

In early 2009, a replacement government was formed with Mr Abhisit Vejjajiva of the Democrat Party as prime minister. While the Abhisit government appeared to be presenting a stabilising force for the country at the moment, there was not much positive news for the telecom sector. The appointment of a politically weak minister, for example, suggested that Information & Communications Technology was simply not a high priority portfolio for this government. In the meantime, one of the urgently needed reforms, the long-awaited restructuring of the two state-owned telcos, TOT and CAT, continued to be postponed.

 

Thailand’s ongoing political instability has had considerable negative impact on:

·         the local economy;

·         the administration of the country; and

·         investor confidence.

 

The global financial crisis of 2008/09 has simple made the situation all the more depressing. Despite all the difficulties, however, Thailand’s telecom sector somehow continues to display a surprising amount of optimism and energy.

 

Key highlights:

·         Thailand’s mobile market had reached 63 million subscribers by March 2009, just under the 100% penetration mark.

·         After more than eight straight years of strong growth, the annual increase in the mobile subscriber numbers had eased to about 15% coming into 2009.

·         The broadband Internet market in Thailand saw another year of vigorous subscriber growth in 2008, running at an annual rate of around 60%; this was on top of a similar surge in 2007; all the signs were suggesting that this would continue through 2009.

·         While demand for broadband services was finally on the move in Thailand, it was happening from a relatively small base; overall broadband penetration still remained low (3% in 2009) and there has been not widespread embracing of IT in the country.

·         The fixed-line market was showing no signs of revival, with growth close to zero; this has been despite a suggestion that the demand for broadband services would provide a fresh momentum in the copper network.

·         Thailand’s telecom regulator has taken positive steps to reform the Internet segment, most notably opening up the Internet gateway market; however, there was much more restructuring needing to be done on this front.

 

Thailand – key telecom parameters – 2008 - 2009

Category

2008

2009 (e)

Fixed-line services:

 

 

·         Total number of subscribers (million)

7.1

7.2

·         Annual change

1%

1%

·         Fixed-line penetration (population)

11%

11%

Internet:

 

 

·         Total number of subscribers1 (million)

5.5

6.0

·         Annual change

10%

9%

·         Internet subscriber penetration (population)

9%

9%

Mobile services:

 

 

·         Total number of subscribers (million)

62.0

67.5

·         Annual change

17%

9%

·         Mobile penetration (population)

97%

104%

(Source: BuddeComm)

Notes: 1Estimates for both 2008 and 2009.

 

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

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