MVNO 168 Communications launches in Thailand

MVNO 365 Communications relaunched as 168 Communication

The Thai mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), formerly known as 365 Communication, has been rebranded and relaunched as 168 Communication. The new administration has added an investment of THB 3 billion.

The investor, Natee Panichewa claims to have an investment of THB 3 billion ($96.6 million), ready for the MVNO’s marketing budget and has set a target of two million subscribers in year one growing to 10 million in year 2020.

168 Communications will provide 3G services on the 850 MHz band, under a 10-year wholesale contract with host network operator (HNO) CAT Telecom.

365 Communication was one of the first five MVNOs in Thailand, riding on TOT’s 2100 MHz 3G network, using a low-cost customer self-service model, utilizing social network as the main marketing and customer service channels.

In September 2013, 365 Communication’s agreement with TOT was terminated. TOT reasoned that 365 Communication was in financial troubles and struggling with cash flow and high debts and failed to place a guarantee of 3 million baht required for the purchase of each airtime allotment.

Surin Ritteepamorn, then chief executive of 365 Communication, claimed that TOT terminated the agreement between the MVNO and TOT before the end of the contract, even though the MVNO provided a satisfactory value per SIM to TOT.

Then in July 2013, CAT Telecom’s President, Kittisak Sriprasert, announced that 365 Communication was one of a handful of companies who had approached CAT Telecom to become MVNO in Thailand on its 3G service.

According to CAT Telecom back then, 365 Communication was planning to provide a service for up to 300,000 users, and pay CAT Telecom THB 300 million ($10 million) a year under the new deal.

Under the new structure, Natee Panichewa and his group holds a combined 50% stake in 168 Communication and has increased the registered capital from THB 30 million to THB 500 million. Surin Ritteepamorn and group, the founder and CEO of 365 Communication, has diluted their shareholding stake to 24%

168 Communication has appointed Loxley Plc as its authorized SIM card dealer. Loxley also has an MVNO “i-Kool” which runs on TOT’s network.

The MVNO positioning is: Better wireless broadband speed with attractive applications and content offerings to serve niche markets like corporate customers and high-end data users.

168 Communications pre-launched yesterday with the aim of a full commercial launch May 8.

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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