2013 Thailand - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts

Publication Overview

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

  • Key statistics;
  • Market and industry overviews;
  • Regulatory environment and developments;
  • Major players (fixed and mobile);
  • Infrastructure;
  • Mobile voice and data market;
  • Internet, including VoIP;
  • Broadband;
  • Digital media, including IPTV;
  • Scenario forecasts for fixed-line, mobile and internet subscribers.

Researcher: Peter Evans
Current publication date:- July 2013 (19th Edition)

 

Executive Summary

Thailand’s telecom sector moves forward as regulator starts managing the mounting challenges

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. Coming into 2012 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. Things have now started to happen. The commission’s first half year of operation certainly saw a lot of positive action. And most importantly the 3G licence auction took place as scheduled in October 2012. Even more critically was that it took place against considerable opposition. The regulator has continued to be resolute since last year’s auction and this means that real change is taking place.

Thailand’s mobile market saw growth slow as the national economy turned down in 2009 and by 2012 the annual growth rate in the mobile market was around 6%. 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 the state of the economy. Nevertheless, on a positive note, mobile subscriptions having more than doubled over the past six years and penetration had reached 120% by early 2013.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 their newly launched 3G licences would help stimulate fresh business growth for them. A once all-powerful duopoly - AIS and DTAC – was still dominating the market despite the entry of a number of new players. Number three in the mobile market, True Move, has been the only one to challenge the big two in any fashion, however.

The Thai internet market has been continuing on a growth path over the last number of years. The demand for internet and internet-related services finally began 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 24% at end-2012 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. Most importantly, with 3G and even 4G services being rolled out in a significant way, the smartphone and tablet market has been booming. 

Market highlights:

  • Thailand’s mobile market had reached 84 million subscribers coming into 2013, for an overall penetration of 120%.
  • 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.
  • For 2011 onwards, mobile subscriber growth was settling at around 10% annually, with the strategic focus shifting to mobile broadband.
  • The NBTC, the country’s new telecoms industry regulator, became fully operational in 2012 and has already had a major impact on the telecom industry, finally clearing the way for 3G mobile licences to be issued by auction in October 2012.
  • The new regulator has also given notice to the operators that industry standards will be enforced, vigorously promoting the theme of consumer protection in playing its role.
  • The broadband internet market in Thailand further strong subscriber growth in 2011, an annual rate of 15%-25% being the pattern.
  • There has also been a surge in demand for smartphones, indicating a change in consumer behaviour on the back of increasing availability of mobile data services.
  • Overall fixed broadband penetration was still relatively low - 7% in early 2013.
  • The fixed-line market was showing no signs of revival, with growth going negative in 2011/2012 and an early return to positive growth seeming unlikely.
  • The Thai telecom market continues to be dogged by accusations of corrupt, illegal and/or inappropriate behaviour by various parties in the industry.
  • Foreign investors remained concerned by the new government regulations aimed at limiting foreign control of operators.

Thailand: - key telecom parameters – 2011 - 2013

Category

2011

2012 (e)

2013 (e)

Fixed-line services:

 

 

 

Total number of subscribers

6.7 million

6.6 million

6.4 million

Internet:

 

 

 

Total number of subscribers1

7.4 million

7.9 million

8.4 million

Mobile services:

 

 

 

Total number of subscribers

78.7 million

83.5 million

90.0 million

(Source: BuddeComm)

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

Table of Contents

  • 1. Key Statistics
  • 2. Country Overview
    • 2.1 Background
    • 2.2 Economy
  • 3. Telecommunications Market
    • 3.1 Overview
    • 3.2 Background
    • 3.3 Political turmoil and its impact on the telecom sector
    • 3.4 Government controls over the internet
  • 4. Regulatory Environment
    • 4.1 Regulatory reform
      • 4.1.1 Background
      • 4.1.2 Telecommunications Act 2001
      • 4.1.3 Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MICT)
    • 4.2 Regulatory authorities
      • 4.2.1 National Telecommunications Commission (NTC)
      • 4.2.2 National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC)
      • 4.2.3 Master Plans (including Frequency Allocation Master Plan)
    • 4.3 Regulatory developments:
      • 4.3.1 2013
      • 4.3.2 2012
    • 4.4 Regulatory developments: pre-2012
      • 4.4.1 Social media
      • 4.4.2 Concession conversion
      • 4.4.3 Taxation
      • 4.4.4 Foreign ownership
      • 4.4.5 Interconnection charges
      • 4.4.6 National numbering scheme
      • 4.4.7 Third generation (3G) mobile licences
      • 4.4.8 WiMAX
  • 5. Major Operators
    • 5.1 Market overview
    • 5.2 Background
    • 5.3 Mobile market
      • 5.3.1 CAT and TOT
    • 5.4 Operator statistics
    • 5.5 Major operators
      • 5.5.1 Advanced Info Service (AIS)
      • 5.5.2 DTAC
      • 5.5.3 True Corp
      • 5.5.4 Telephone Organization of Thailand Corp (TOT)
      • 5.5.5 Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT)
      • 5.5.6 Thai Mobile, TOT and CAT
      • 5.5.7 TT&T
  • 6. Telecommunications Infrastructure
    • 6.1 National telecom network
      • 6.1.1 Overview
    • 6.2 Fixed-line network
      • 6.2.1 Background
      • 6.2.2 Statistics
      • 6.2.3 Forecasts – fixed-line subscribers – 2015; 2020
      • 6.2.4 Public payphones
    • 6.3 Next Generation Network (NGN)
    • 6.4 International infrastructure
      • 6.4.1 Overview
      • 6.4.2 Submarine cable networks
      • 6.4.3 Submarine cable systems under construction or proposed
      • 6.4.4 Satellite networks
  • 7. Internet Market
    • 7.1 Overview
    • 7.2 One Tablet Per Child (OTPC) project
    • 7.3 Lese majeste laws
    • 7.4 Cloud services
    • 7.5 Internet statistics
    • 7.6 ISP market
      • 7.6.1 Overview
      • 7.6.2 Market restructuring
    • 7.7 Thailand’s internet gateway exchanges
      • 7.7.1 Overview
      • 7.7.2 Opening up of gateway market
    • 7.8 Regulatory issues
      • 7.8.1 Background
    • 7.9 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
  • 8. Broadband Market
    • 8.1 Overview
    • 8.2 Broadband statistics
    • 8.3 True Online
    • 8.4 National Broadband Policy
      • 8.4.1 True’s fixed broadband project
    • 8.5 Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
      • 8.5.1 Background
    • 8.6 Cable modem
      • 8.6.1 Background
    • 8.7 Internet via satellite
      • 8.7.1 Background
    • 8.8 Wireless internet
      • 8.8.1 WiFi
      • 8.8.2 Free WiFi hotspot project
      • 8.8.3 WiMAX
    • 8.9 Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH)
  • 9. Digital Media / Digital Economy
    • 9.1 Broadcasting market
      • 9.1.1 Overview
      • 9.1.2 Regulatory environment
      • 9.1.3 Regulatory developments - 2013
      • 9.1.4 Digital TV
      • 9.1.5 Internet Protocol Television (IPTV)
      • 9.1.6 Free-to-Air (FTA) TV
      • 9.1.7 Pay TV
  • 10. Mobile Communications
    • 10.1 Overview
      • 10.1.1 Smartphones
      • 10.1.2 2100MHZ 3G launch marks big change in market
    • 10.2 Mobile statistics
    • 10.3 Competition
    • 10.4 Regulatory developments
      • 10.4.1 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
      • 10.4.2 Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)
      • 10.4.3 Interconnection arrangements
      • 10.4.4 CAT Telecom / TrueMove partnership
      • 10.4.5 National security
      • 10.4.6 Frequency spectrum issues
      • 10.4.7 Tariffs
      • 10.4.8 Interconnection charges
      • 10.4.9 Network sharing regulations
      • 10.4.10 3G roaming agreements
    • 10.5 Mobile technologies
      • 10.5.1 CDMA
      • 10.5.2 PCT service
      • 10.5.3 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
      • 10.5.4 Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
      • 10.5.5 Third Generation (3G) mobile
      • 10.5.6 Fourth Generation (4G) / Long Term Evolution (LTE)
    • 10.6 Mobile voice services
      • 10.6.1 Prepaid
    • 10.7 Mobile data services
      • 10.7.1 Overview
      • 10.7.2 Short Message Service (SMS)
      • 10.7.3 Multimedia Message Service (MMS)
      • 10.7.4 Mobile payment schemes
    • 10.8 Mobile content and applications
      • 10.8.1 Overview
      • 10.8.2 Mobile TV
  • 11. Forecasts
    • 11.1 Internet Forecasts
      • 11.1.1 Overview
      • 11.1.2 Forecasts – internet subscribers – 2015; 2020
    • 11.2 Mobile Forecasts
      • 11.2.1 Overview
      • 11.2.2 Forecasts – mobile subscribers – 2015; 2020
      • Table 1 – Country statistics – 2012
      • Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – 2012
      • Table 3 – Internet user statistics – 2012
      • Table 4 – Broadband statistics – 2012
      • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2012
      • Table 6 – National telecommunications authorities
      • Table 7 – Thailand’s real GDP growth rate – 2006 - 2014
      • Table 8 – Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change – 2012
      • Table 9 – Mobile operators, subscribers and market share – 2012
      • Table 10 – Monthly ARPU (postpaid, prepaid, blended) for major mobile operators – 2012
      • Table 11 – Fixed-line operators and subscribers – 2009; 2011
      • Table 12 – Fixed-line operators and payphones – 2009; 2011
      • Table 13 – AIS: subscribers and market share – 2004; 2007 - 2013
      • Table 14 – AIS: 3G subscribers – 2011 - 2013
      • Table 15 – AIS: mobile subscribers and ARPU (postpaid and prepaid) – March 2013
      • Table 16 – AIS: ARPU (postpaid, prepaid and blended) – 2007 - 2013
      • Table 17 – AIS: number of data users – 2008 - 2012
      • Table 18 – AIS: proportion of revenue from non-voice – 2008 - 2013
      • Table 19 – AIS: capital expenditure – 2008 - 2013
      • Table 20 – DTAC: total mobile subscribers and market share – 2002 - 2013
      • Table 21 – DTAC: 3G subscribers – 2011 - 2013
      • Table 22 – DTAC: Mobile data subscribers – 2011 - 2012
      • Table 23 – DTAC: mobile subscribers and ARPU (postpaid and prepaid) – 2012
      • Table 24 – DTAC: ARPU (postpaid, prepaid and blended) – 2008 - 2012
      • Table 25 – True’s total revenues – 2004 - 2012
      • Table 26 – True Corp: capital expenditure – 2007 - 2013
      • Table 27 – True’s fixed-line subscribers – 2004 - 2012
      • Table 28 – True’s fixed line ARPU – 2004 - 2012
      • Table 29 – True’s payphone ARPU – 2004 - 2012
      • Table 30 – True Move: total mobile subscribers and market share – 2004 - 2013
      • Table 31 – True Move: 3G subscribers – 2011 - 2013
      • Table 32 – True Move: mobile subscribers and ARPU (postpaid / prepaid) – 2012
      • Table 33 – True Move: ARPU (postpaid, prepaid and blended) – 2007 - 2011
      • Table 34 – True Move H: ARPU (postpaid, prepaid and blended) – 2011 - 2012
      • Table 35 – TrueMove: proportion of revenue from non-voice – 2008 - 2012
      • Table 36 – True’s PCT subscribers – 2004 - 2012
      • Table 37 – True’s fixed internet subscribers – 2003 - 2012
      • Table 38 – True’s broadband subscribers – 2001 - 2013
      • Table 39 – TOT’s fixed-line subscribers – 2005 - 2012
      • Table 40 – TOT’s total revenues – 2005 - 2012
      • Table 41 – TOT’s payphones – 2005 - 2011
      • Table 42 – True Move: 3G subscribers – 2012 - 2013
      • Table 43 – TOT’s broadband services – 2007 - 2012
      • Table 44 – TOT’s broadband internet ports in service – 2011
      • Table 45 – Thai Mobile Telecom’s subscriber growth – 2002 - 2009
      • Table 46 – CAT Telecom’s subscriber growth – 2006 – 2009; 2012
      • Table 47 – Hutchison CAT: subscribers and market share – 2003; 2007 - 2010
      • Table 48 – TT&T’s fixed-line subscribers – 2009 - 2012
      • Table 49 – Triple T Broadband’s subscribers – 2004; 2007 – 2012
      • Table 50 – Fixed lines and teledensity – 1995 - 2013
      • Table 51 – Estimated fixed-line subscribers by operator – 2011
      • Table 52 – Estimated fixed-line subscribers – metro vs provincial – 2011
      • Table 53 – Forecast fixed-line subscribers and penetration rate – 2015; 2020
      • Table 54 – Public payphones in service – 2004 - 2012
      • Table 55 – Public payphones by provider – 2011
      • Table 56 – Internet users – 1996 - 2013
      • Table 57 – Internet subscribers – 1997 - 2012
      • Table 58 – International internet bandwidth – 2000 - 2012
      • Table 59 – Fixed broadband subscribers and penetration – 2001 - 2013
      • Table 60 – Fixed broadband subscribers and households – 2012
      • Table 61 – Major fixed broadband providers and subscribers – 2012
      • Table 62 – DSL subscribers – 2002 - 2012
      • Table 63 – True – fixed broadband subscribers – 2010 - 2012
      • Table 64 – Key broadcasting statistics – 2012
      • Table 65 – Pay TV subscribers – 1996 - 2002
      • Table 66 – Pay TV subscribers by platform – 2002 - 2012
      • Table 67 – True Visions - pay TV subscribers – 1998 - 2012
      • Table 68 – True Visions – Pay TV and FTA subscribers – 2007 - 2012
      • Table 69 – True Visions – pay TV ARPU – 2003 - 2012
      • Table 70 – Mobile subscribers – 1999 - 2013
      • Table 71 – Total 3G mobile subscribers – 2012 - 2013
      • Table 72 – Mobile services revenue and ARPU – 1998 - 2012
      • Table 73 – Mobile operators, subscribers and market share – 2012
      • Table 74 – ARPU (postpaid, prepaid, blended) for major mobile operators – 2010; 2012
      • Table 75 – Mobile subscribers – prepaid and postpaid – 2006 - 2012
      • Table 76 – Forecast internet subscribers and penetration rate – 2015; 2020
      • Table 77 – Forecast mobile subscribers and penetration rate –2015; 2020
      • Chart 1 - Thailand's real GDP growth rate - 2006-2013
      • Chart 2 - Mobile operators market share – 2012
      • Chart 3 – Monthly ARPU for major mobile operators – 2012
      • Chart 4 – AIS: ARPU (postpaid, prepaid and blended) – 2007 - 2013
      • Chart 5 - DTAC: total mobile subscribers and market share - 2002 – 2012
      • Chart 6 – DTAC: ARPU (postpaid, prepaid and blended) – 2008 - 2012
      • Chart 7 - True Move: total mobile subscribers and market share - 2004 – 2013
      • Chart 8 - True Move: ARPU (postpaid, prepaid and blended) - 2007 – 2011
      • Chart 9 – True's PCT subscribers – 2004 - 2012
      • Chart 10 – True's fixed internet subscribers – 2004 - 2012
      • Chart 11 – True's broadband subscribers – 2004 - 2013
      • Chart 12 – TOT’s fixed-line subscribers – 2005 - 2012
      • Chart 13 – TOT's total revenues – 2005 - 2012
      • Chart 14 – TOT's payphones – 2005 - 2011
      • Chart 15 – Thai Mobile Telecom's subscriber growth – 2002 - 2009
      • Chart 16 – Hutchison CAT: subscribers and market share – 2003; 2007-2010
      • Chart 17 - Triple T Broadband's subscribers - 2007 – 2012
      • Chart 18 – Fixed and mobile subscribers – 1999 - 2010
      • Chart 19 - Fixed lines and teledensity - 2000-2012
      • Chart 20 - Public payphones in service - 2004-2011
      • Chart 21 – Internet subscribers – 2002 - 2012
      • Chart 22 - Fixed broadband subscribers and household penetration - 2004 - 2013 (e)
      • Chart 23 - Major fixed broadband providers and subscribers - 2012
      • Chart 24 - True - fixed broadband subscribers - 2010 – 2012
      • Chart 25 - Pay TV subscribers by platform - 2002 – 2012
      • Chart 26 - True Visions - Pay TV and FTA subscribers - 2007 – 2012
      • Chart 27 – Mobile subscribers and penetration – 2002 - 2013
      • Chart 28 - Mobile services revenue and ARPU - 2002 - 2012
      • Chart 29 - Mobile operators and market share – 2012
      • Chart 30 - Mobile subscribers - prepaid and postpaid - 2006-2012
      • Exhibit 1 – Thailand’s Foreign Ownership legislation for telecom sector
      • Exhibit 2 – Major operators by market segment
      • Exhibit 3 – Statement by Telenor on status of DTAC concession in Thailand – March 2013
      • Exhibit 4 – True Corp’s major shareholders – March 2012
      • Exhibit 5 – Submarine cable networks - 2012
      • Exhibit 6 – Thaicom’s satellite network – June 2013
      • Exhibit 7 – Licensed ISPs in Thailand – 2012
      • Exhibit 8 – ISPs operated by telecom companies
      • Exhibit 9 – International internet gateway operators in Thailand – 2011
      • Exhibit 10 – FTA TV Broadcasters
      • Exhibit 11 – Major mobile operators and foreign shareholders – June 2013

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