2014 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:- August 2014 (20th Edition)

Executive Summary

Thailand’s military coup creates further challenges for the telecom sector.

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.

Then, following a period of serious political instability, in May 2014 there was a military coup that threw the administration of the country into a new phase. The junta that took power signalled a clear intention to take control of the country for a significant ‘transition’ period. During this time they intended to continue the full administration of the country and inevitably this meant certain things would change. This of course was to impact in a major way on the telecom sector.

By 2014 a range of deregulation issues were still crying out to be addressed. But the military coup made for an uncertain future. 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 for the allocation of 3G spectrum.

Thailand finally got its new regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), in 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 continued to be resolute meaning that real change was 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 almost 140% by early 2014. 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 networks would help stimulate fresh business growth for them. A once all-powerful duopoly - AIS and DTAC – was still dominating the market despite the challenge of the other players. In reality, number three in the mobile market, True Move, was the only one to challenge the big two in any fashion.

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 less than 25% at end-2013 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, mobile broadband was booming and the smartphone and tablet market has been running hot.

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
    • 1.1 Country overview
      • 1.1.1 Background
      • 1.1.2 Economy
      • 1.1.3 Military coup in Thailand – May 2014
  • 2. Telecommunications Market
    • 2.1 Overview
    • 2.2 Background
    • 2.3 Political turmoil and its impact on the telecom sector
    • 2.4 Government controls over the internet
      • 2.4.1 Background
      • 2.4.2 Post- May 2014 coup
  • 3. Regulatory Environment
    • 3.1 Regulatory reform
      • 3.1.1 Background
      • 3.1.2 Telecommunications Act 2001
      • 3.1.3 Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MICT)
    • 3.2 Regulatory authorities
      • 3.2.1 National Telecommunications Commission (NTC)
      • 3.2.2 National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC)
      • 3.2.3 Master Plans (including Frequency Allocation Master Plan)
    • 3.3 Regulatory developments:
      • 3.3.1 2014
      • 3.3.2 2013
      • 3.3.3 2012
      • 3.3.4 ‘Corruption’ in 3G auction process
    • 3.4 Regulatory developments: pre-2012
      • 3.4.1 Social media
      • 3.4.2 Concession conversion
      • 3.4.3 Taxation
      • 3.4.4 Foreign ownership
      • 3.4.5 Interconnection charges
      • 3.4.6 National numbering scheme
      • 3.4.7 Third generation (3G) mobile licences
      • 3.4.8 WiMAX
  • 4. Major Operators
    • 4.1 Operating environment for operators
      • 4.1.1 Market overview
      • 4.1.2 Background
      • 4.1.3 Mobile market
      • 4.1.4 Operator statistics
    • 4.2 Major operators
      • 4.2.1 Advanced Info Service (AIS)
      • 4.2.2 DTAC
      • 4.2.3 True Corp
      • 4.2.4 Telephone Organization of Thailand Corp (TOT)
      • 4.2.5 Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT)
      • 4.2.6 Thai Mobile, TOT and CAT
      • 4.2.7 TT&T
  • 5. Telecommunications Infrastructure
    • 5.1 National telecom network
      • 5.1.1 Overview
    • 5.2 Fixed-line network
      • 5.2.1 Background
      • 5.2.2 Statistics
      • 5.2.3 Public payphones
    • 5.3 Next Generation Network (NGN)
    • 5.4 International infrastructure
      • 5.4.1 Overview
      • 5.4.2 Submarine cable networks
      • 5.4.3 Submarine cable systems under construction or proposed
      • 5.4.4 Satellite networks
  • 6. Internet Market
    • 6.1 Overview
    • 6.2 One Tablet Per Child (OTPC) project
    • 6.3 Lese majeste laws
    • 6.4 Cloud services
    • 6.5 Data Centres
    • 6.6 Internet statistics
    • 6.7 ISP market
      • 6.7.1 Overview
      • 6.7.2 Market restructuring
    • 6.8 Thailand’s internet gateway exchanges
      • 6.8.1 Overview
      • 6.8.2 Opening up of gateway market
    • 6.9 Regulatory issues
      • 6.9.1 Background
    • 6.10 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
  • 7. Broadband Market
    • 7.1 Overview
    • 7.2 Broadband statistics
    • 7.3 Major broadband operators
      • 7.3.1 Statistics
      • 7.3.2 True Online
    • 7.4 National Broadband Policy
      • 7.4.1 True’s fixed broadband project
    • 7.5 Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
      • 7.5.1 Background
    • 7.6 Cable modem
      • 7.6.1 Background
    • 7.7 Internet via satellite
      • 7.7.1 Background
    • 7.8 Wireless internet
      • 7.8.1 WiFi
      • 7.8.2 Free WiFi hotspot project
      • 7.8.3 WiMAX
    • 7.9 Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH)
  • 8. Digital Media
    • 8.1 Broadcasting market
      • 8.1.1 Overview
      • 8.1.2 Regulatory environment
      • 8.1.3 Regulatory developments - 2013
      • 8.1.4 Digital TV
      • 8.1.5 Internet Protocol Television (IPTV)
      • 8.1.6 Free-to-Air (FTA) TV
      • 8.1.7 Pay TV
  • 9. Mobile Communications
    • 9.1 Overview
      • 9.1.1 Smartphones
      • 9.1.2 2100MHZ 3G launch marks big change in market
    • 9.2 Mobile statistics
    • 9.3 Competition
    • 9.4 OTT
    • 9.5 Regulatory developments
      • 9.5.1 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
      • 9.5.2 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO)
      • 9.5.3 Interconnection arrangements
      • 9.5.4 CAT Telecom / TrueMove partnership
      • 9.5.5 National security
      • 9.5.6 Frequency spectrum issues
      • 9.5.7 Tariffs
      • 9.5.8 Interconnection charges
      • 9.5.9 Network sharing regulations
      • 9.5.10 3G roaming agreements
    • 9.6 Mobile technologies
      • 9.6.1 CDMA
      • 9.6.2 PCT service
      • 9.6.3 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
      • 9.6.4 Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
      • 9.6.5 Third Generation (3G) mobile
      • 9.6.6 Fourth Generation (4G) / Long Term Evolution (LTE)
    • 9.7 Mobile voice services
      • 9.7.1 Prepaid
    • 9.8 Mobile data services
      • 9.8.1 Overview
      • 9.8.2 Short Message Service (SMS)
      • 9.8.3 Multimedia Message Service (MMS)
      • 9.8.4 Mobile payment schemes
    • 9.9 Mobile content and applications
      • 9.9.1 Overview
      • 9.9.2 Mobile TV
  • 10. Forecasts
    • 10.1 Forecasts – fixed-line subscribers – 2015; 2020
    • 10.2 Forecasts – internet subscribers – 2015; 2020
    • 10.3 Forecasts – mobile subscribers – 2015; 2020
    • Table 1 – Country statistics – 2014
    • Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – 2013
    • Table 3 – Internet user statistics – 2013
    • Table 4 – Broadband statistics – 2013
    • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2013
    • Table 6 – National telecommunications authorities
    • Table 7 – Thailand’s real GDP growth rate – 2006 - 2015
    • Table 8 – Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change – 2013
    • Table 9 – Mobile operators, subscribers and market share – 2013
    • Table 10 – Mobile operators, 3G subscribers and market share – 2013
    • Table 11 – Mobile operators, 3G subscribers and market share – March 2014
    • Table 12 – Monthly ARPU (postpaid, prepaid, blended) for major mobile operators – 2012
    • Table 13 – Fixed-line operators and subscribers – 2009; 2012
    • Table 14 – Fixed-line operators and payphones – 2009; 2012
    • Table 15 – AIS: subscribers and market share – 2004; 2007 - 2014
    • Table 16 – AIS: 3G subscribers – 2011 - 2014
    • Table 17 – AIS: mobile subscribers and ARPU (postpaid and prepaid) – June 2014
    • Table 18 – AIS: ARPU (postpaid, prepaid and blended) – 2007 - 2014
    • Table 19 – AIS: number of data users – 2008 - 2014
    • Table 20 – AIS: proportion of revenue from non-voice – 2008 - 2014
    • Table 21 – AIS: capital expenditure – 2008 - 2014
    • Table 22 – DTAC: total mobile subscribers and market share – 2002 - 2014
    • Table 23 – DTAC: 3G subscribers – 2011 - 2014
    • Table 24 – DTAC: Mobile data subscribers – 2011 – 2012: 2014
    • Table 25 – DTAC: mobile subscribers and ARPU (postpaid and prepaid) – 2013
    • Table 26 – DTAC: ARPU (postpaid, prepaid and blended) – 2008 - 2014
    • Table 27 – True’s total revenues – 2004 - 2013
    • Table 28 – True Corp: capital expenditure – 2007 - 2014
    • Table 29 – True’s fixed-line subscribers – 2004 - 2014
    • Table 30 – True’s fixed line ARPU – 2004 - 2014
    • Table 31 – True’s payphone ARPU – 2004 - 2014
    • Table 32 – True Move: total mobile subscribers and market share – 2004 - 2014
    • Table 33 – True Move: 3G subscribers – 2011 - 2014
    • Table 34 – True Move: mobile subscribers and ARPU (postpaid / prepaid) – 2013
    • Table 35 – True Move: ARPU (postpaid, prepaid and blended) – 2007 - 2014
    • Table 36 – True Move H: ARPU (postpaid, prepaid and blended) – 2011 - 2012
    • Table 37 – TrueMove: proportion of revenue from non-voice – 2008 - 2014
    • Table 38 – True’s PCT subscribers – 2004 - 2012
    • Table 39 – TrueOnline’s fixed broadband subscribers – 2001 - 2014
    • Table 40 – Historical - TrueOnline’s fixed internet subscribers – 2003 - 2012
    • Table 41 – TOT’s fixed-line subscribers – 2005 - 2013
    • Table 42 – TOT’s total revenues – 2005 - 2013
    • Table 43 – TOT’s payphones – 2005 - 2013
    • Table 44 – TOT: 3G subscribers – 2012 - 2013
    • Table 45 – TOT’s broadband services – 2007 - 2013
    • Table 46 – TOT’s broadband internet ports in service – 2011
    • Table 47 – Thai Mobile Telecom’s subscriber growth – 2002 - 2009
    • Table 48 – CAT Telecom’s subscriber growth – 2006 – 2009; 2012
    • Table 49 – Hutchison CAT: subscribers and market share – 2003; 2007 - 2010
    • Table 50 – TT&T’s fixed-line subscribers – 2009 - 2013
    • Table 51 – Triple T Broadband’s subscribers – 2004; 2007 – 2012
    • Table 52 – Fixed lines and teledensity – 1995 - 2014
    • Table 53 – Estimated fixed-line subscribers by operator – 2012
    • Table 54 – Estimated fixed-line subscribers – metro vs provincial – 2011
    • Table 55 – Public payphones in service – 2004 - 2013
    • Table 56 – Public payphones by provider – 2012
    • Table 57 – Historical - Internet users – 1996 - 2006
    • Table 58 – Internet users – 2007 - 2014
    • Table 59 – Historical - Fixed internet subscribers – 1997 - 2005
    • Table 60 – Fixed internet subscribers – 2007 - 2014
    • Table 61 – International internet bandwidth – 2000 - 2014
    • Table 62 – Fixed broadband subscribers and penetration – 2001 - 2014
    • Table 63 – Fixed broadband subscribers and households – 2013
    • Table 64 – DSL subscribers – 2002 - 2014
    • Table 65 – Cable modem subscribers – 2011 - 2013
    • Table 66 – Mobile broadband subscribers – 2011 - 2013
    • Table 67 – Major fixed broadband providers and subscribers – 2012
    • Table 68 – True – fixed broadband subscribers – 2010 - 2014
    • Table 69 – Fibre-based broadband subscribers – 2010 - 2013
    • Table 70 – Key broadcasting statistics – 2013
    • Table 71 – Digital TV – licence categories – number of licences and bidders – October 2013
    • Table 72 – Historical - Pay TV subscribers – 1996 - 2002
    • Table 73 – Historical - Pay TV subscribers by platform – 2002 - 2009
    • Table 74 – Cable TV subscribers – 2010 - 2013
    • Table 75 – Direct-to-Home (DTH) TV subscribers – 2010 - 2013
    • Table 76 – True Visions - pay TV subscribers – 1998 - 2014
    • Table 77 – True Visions – Pay TV and FTA subscribers – 2007 - 2013
    • Table 78 – True Visions – pay TV ARPU – 2003 - 2013
    • Table 79 – Mobile subscribers, penetration and annual growth – 1999 - 2014
    • Table 80 – Total 3G mobile subscribers – 2012 - 2014
    • Table 81 – Mobile operators, 3G subscribers and market share – March 2014
    • Table 82 – Mobile services revenue and ARPU – 1998 - 2013
    • Table 83 – Mobile operators, subscribers and market share – 2013
    • Table 84 – ARPU (postpaid, prepaid, blended) for major mobile operators – 2010; 2012
    • Table 85 – Mobile subscribers – prepaid and postpaid – 2006 - 2013
    • Table 86 – Mobile broadband subscribers – 2011 - 2013
    • Table 87 – Forecast fixed-line subscribers and penetration rate – 2015; 2020
    • Table 88 – Forecast fixed broadband internet subscribers and penetration – 2015; 2020
    • Table 89 – Forecast mobile subscribers and penetration rate –2015; 2020
    • Chart 1 - Thailand's real GDP growth rate - 2006-2015
    • Chart 2 - Mobile operators market share – 2014
    • Chart 3 – Monthly ARPU for major mobile operators – 2012
    • Chart 4 – AIS: ARPU (postpaid, prepaid and blended) – 2007 - 2014
    • Chart 5 - DTAC: total mobile subscribers and market share - 2002 – 2014
    • Chart 6 – DTAC: ARPU (postpaid, prepaid and blended) – 2008 - 2014
    • Chart 7 - True Move: total mobile subscribers and market share - 2004 – 2014
    • Chart 8 - True Move: ARPU (postpaid, prepaid and blended) - 2007 – 2014
    • Chart 9 – Hutchison CAT: subscribers and market share – 2003; 2007-2010
    • Chart 10 - Fixed lines and teledensity - 2003-2014
    • Chart 11 - Public payphones in service - 2004-2013
    • Chart 12 - Internet users - 2007 - 2014
    • Chart 13 – Internet subscribers – 2007 - 2014
    • Chart 14 – Mobile subscribers and penetration – 2002 - 2014
    • Chart 15 - Mobile services revenue and ARPU - 2002 - 2013
    • Chart 16 - Mobile operators and market share – 2013
    • Chart 17 - Mobile subscribers - prepaid and postpaid - 2006-2013
    • 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 2014
    • 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 – Digital TV licensing categories and companies purchasing bid papers –October 2013
    • Exhibit 11 – FTA TV Broadcasters
    • Exhibit 12 – Major mobile operators and foreign shareholders – June 2013

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