Newcomer Mobile LTE to provide Thailand with MVNO, IoT, FinTech and LTE

Mobile LTE is getting ready to for MVNO, FinTech, IoT, Smart Grid and LTE

Thai telecom newcomer Mobile LTE is getting ready to embark on a journey with a myriad of disruptive services, offering MVNO, FinTech, IoT, Smart Grid and LTE through old and new networks.
Mobile LTE was established in 2014 between CEO, Varayuth James Yenbamroong and Chatchai Yenbamroong with a registered capital of THB 100 million.

Varayuth James Yenbamroong has a background in aerospace and defense technology from the US company Northrop Grumman Corporation.

Chatchai Yenbamroong was an executive in Shinawatra Directories Co., Ltd (Known today as: Teleinfo Media Company), a publisher of both White and Yellow pages telephone directories in Thailand, founded by the family of the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Chatchai Yenbamroong also served as a Director of the system integrator company, Advanced Information Technology Public Co. Ltd. (AIT) from November 10, 2009 to April 6, 2012.

IoT, Smart Grids, and backhaul via MEO/LEO Satellite

In the initial phase, Mobile LTE will lease a number of transponders from Chinese satellite operators to provide its service in Thailand before launching its own geostationary satellite within the next 5 years.

The company will also be developing new lightweight-flexible GEO constellation satellites for the Asia Pacific and Oceania markets, to explore new business use cases, based on Geostationary and Non-Geostationary Satellite Orbit (GSO/NGSO), operating in Medium and Low Earth Orbit (MEO/LEO).

Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites are located in orbits much closer to the surface of the earth (10,000 km) than GSO satellites (36,000 km), while Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is only 700 km – 1,500 km from the earth. The advantage of MEO and LEO is that they are able to receive signals from devices as small as pocket-sized mobile phones providing mobile data, messaging services and real-time voice.

Mobile LTE is looking to provide a pure data connectivity platform for mobile backhaul business and opportunities in Internet of Things (IoT), Smart Grids, Smart Cities, and rural area connectivity using UHF, L, C, X, Ku and Ka-bands.

MOBILE LTE became Thailand’s second satellite operator after the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission’s telecom committee approved a license for the company last month, as only the second satellite licensee in Thailand after Thaicom.

Mobile LTE was granted a 15-year license to operate both satellite-transponder leasing service and satellite-signal uplink/downlink service and will coordinate with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society to reserve an orbital slot.

According to its license application, Mobile LTE will lease a number of transponders from a Chinese satellite operator to provide the service in Thailand in 2017 before leasing a whole satellite to provide its service in 2019, and then build its own satellite in 2021.

MVNO and Fintech Friend+

Beside satellite communication, the other core businesses of Mobile LTE will include mobile services, offering Thai consumers nationwide 3G/4G service over unused spectrum with financial technology under the brand name Friend+

Mobile LTE bought a Non-facilities-based/Medium MVNO license in 2014, from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) but has yet to start that business. The license is valid from December 9, 2014 to December 8, 2019.

Mobile LTE is looking to build its new IoT business and specialized MVNO through its Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) team and MVNO partners – by analyzing, designing and developing NFV and SDN technical solutions for IoT PaaS.

In 2014 Mobile LTE was one of the companies that proposed to become a TOT partner and provide mobile service on TOT’s 2100MHz spectrum.

Mobile LTE proposed to partner with the state enterprise to provide 3G mobile service as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), aiming to acquire between 12-15 million subscribers and guaranteeing that TOT would earn THB 2.5 billion per year for five years from the MVNO partnership.

Mobile LTE said it was also ready to invest in a 4G network for TOT. However after 3-years of decision making (!), the state enterprise seems to have decided to sell 80% of its 2100MHz capacity to Advanced Info Service (AIS).

LTE roll-out

Mobile LTE picked up the bidding documents for the Thai 1800MHz spectrum auction in 2015, but did not join the bidding. However the company aims to secure spectra to further develop its mobile services.

This is evident from Mobile LTE currently seeking a Telecommunication Engineer/Business Development Executive to work closely with its network equipment partner to support existing 3G/4G sites surveys, Radio Network planning and Design of In-Building Coverage of LTE in Bangkok as well as develop coverage and a capacity expansion model for a future aggressive LTE network roll-out plan.

Mobile LTE is also (once again) seeking to partner Thai state-owned operator TOT, and provide wireless broadband services using the state operator’s next capacity sale on its 2300MHz spectrum.

Four companies, the mobile network operators AIS and DTAC, as well as Mobile LTE and Tantawan Telecommunication are expected to take part in the selection process.

The winner must build the 4G network on the 2300MHz spectrum to cover 80% nationwide for TOT, with 1,769 base stations in the first year of operation, increasing to 8,455 (Year 2), 14,994 (Year 3), 20,367 (Year 4) and 21,217 base stations in year 5 – in return for 60% capacity of the 65MHz bandwidth.

The state enterprise expects to announce the winner by May 2017 and sign a deal by Q3, with the winner starting installation of the network in Q4.

But let’s see, TOT is still on a 14.4 Kbit/s modem when it comes to speed in decision making e.g. the AIS/TOT 2100MHz deal took TOT years to decide on, and has not been launched yet. Prior to that, also on the 2100MHz – the second phase of TOT’s 3G network expansion was put off in 2013, as the state enterprise couldn’t decide on its partnership models, and ended up with the 5,320 base stations it has today.

The 2300MHz seems to be a done deal between DTAC and TOT, given the lack of interest from TRUE, as well as AIS said to have first call on the 2300MHz option, in its MoU on the 2100MHz, which it hasn’t used.

Failing to win or not bidding at all on the TOT 2300MHz deal would open another, more interesting opportunity for Mobile LTE as a bidder in the up-coming spectrum auctions.

Given that the operators would be busy with their state-enterprise capacity and roll-out, Mobile LTE might secure a better deal on a license bidding, which would have the added bonus of being independent, instead of having to rely on TOT in the future.

Mobile LTE will be supported financially by companies in Silicon Valley and Northern Gulf Petroleum, in which Chatchai Yenbamroong is also the executive director and Varayuth James Yenbamroong is the Director of Strategy and Business Development.

According to local media, the company’s registration with the Department of Business Development, shows that Yenbamroong family members jointly own 56% of Mobile LTE, while a British Virgin Islands-registered company owns 44%.

Author: Allan Rasmussen
Managing director at Yozzo. Allan is a MVNA/MVNE/MVNO specialist with hands-on experience from more than 60 projects in both competitive and greenfield markets. His expertise includes business case development, execution, launch and growth strategies. Advisor and consultant to mobile network operators, MVNA, MVNE, MVNO, National Regulatory Authorities, Government Agencies, Broadcast Companies, TMT Industry Associations, Innovation and Investment Banks.

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