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This report provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications and digital media markets in Thailand. Subjects covered include:
Market and industry overviews;
Regulatory environment and developments;
Major players (fixed and mobile);
Mobile voice and data market;
Internet, including VoIP;
Digital media, including IPTV;
Scenario forecasts for fixed-line, mobile and internet subscribers.
4G LTE set to gain traction in 2016 to spur on mobile broadband adoption
A generally improved commercial environment has presented increased opportunities for the development of the internet in Thailand. Over the last decade, the estimated number of internet users in the country has increased more than fourfold. Internet user penetration reached 38% in 2015. ISPs have recovered from their earlier reputation for unreliable performance and a failure to invest in improved infrastructure; and the government has been fixing the regulatory regime.
The Thai telecom market is a complex commercial environment, with a mix of state-owned companies and private operators functioning under a wide variety of corporate and regulatory structures and interfaces. There are three major fixed-line operators – one government-owned and two private. Fixed-line services are outnumbered by mobile phone services by a ratio of more than 15 to one. While reasonably good infrastructure has been put in place to support data services, this segment of the market has only recently been experiencing significant growth.
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.
The country has been making a strong push into broadband services. Fixed broadband penetration continues to grow slowly in Thailand reaching 30% household penetration in 2015. There have also been changes in the wireless broadband market with the roll-out of more 3G networks followed by 4G/LTE. Fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) continues to grow strongly in major metropolitan areas. In 2015 AIS commercially launched its residential fibre broadband service, ‘AIS Fibre’, offering connection speeds of up to 1Gbps via FTTH. In late 2015 the Provincial Electricity Authority announced the rollout of the country's first smart grid electricity project, by early 2018.
The local mobile sector has seen a sustained period of high competition with heavy price-cutting as the battle for market share raged. There is likely to be a push for consolidation, especially as the market gets closer to saturation. The government’s sectoral reform should also have a major impact on the shape and direction of the market. Mobile subscriber penetration saw a significant fall in 2014/15 due to decline in subscriber growth by all operators, especially DTAC. 3G penetration continues to grow very strongly, with over 90% of subscribers now on 3G networks in 2015.
Mobile subscriber penetration saw a significant fall in 2014/15.
3G penetration continues to grow very strongly, with over 90% of subscribers now on 3G networks.
DTAC has a THB14 billion investment in 3G/4G network expansion totalling 6,500 sites nationwide.
AIS plans to increase its 3 DTAC plans to implement VoLTE, over its 4G network.
NTT Com has launched a mobile data-only service under a MVNO licence.
WiFi continues to grow strongly in Thailand. AIS is rolling out ‘Super Wi-Fi’ access points.
TOT is adding WiFi hotspot capabilities to 10,000 public telephone booths in greater Bangkok.
True Corp announced plans for a transformation of its fixed and wireless broadband networks.
AIS launched fibre broadband and an IPTV services.
Steps were taken by True and CAT Telecom to introduce cloud computing platforms.
The NBTC issued cable and satellite pay TV operator licences of up to 15-year duration.
The IPTV market was continuing to position itself to grow substantially in the coming years.