One Operator, Two Months, 4.2m Subscribers

In just two months, AIS has added 4.2m subscribers to its new 3G 2.1 GHz service. 

According to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), the last two months have seen a total of 4.3 million subscribers arrive on the new 2.1GHz 3G service in Thailand, where 4.299,000 of the users are with Advanced Wireless Network (AWN), a subsidy of Advanced Info Service (AIS) while the remaining 1,000 are with Real Future, a subsidy of True Corp.

1.3 million of AWN’s subscribers are new subscribers, while 3 million were migrated from AIS services to AWN. Of the 3 million migrated subscribers, 2.5 million were transferred directly via the call-transit system, while the remaining 500,000 migrated subscribers came to AWN via the mobile-number-portability system (MNP) allowing the users to keep their old mobile phone numbers when switching.

Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS), Thailand’s largest mobile operator, plans to move all existing 3G customers on the 900-megahertz concession-based network to the licensing-based 2.1GHz spectrum within two months to ease traffic congestion.

AWN had installed 5,709 (2.1GHz) base station sites covering 31 provinces. By end of next month, the company expects to have at least 8,000 3G base stations nationwide including 1,000 near office buildings covering 67 provinces, which is five months ahead of schedule.

AIS admitted that it was swamped by a deluge of customer complaints over poor signal quality for both voice and data service in many areas thanks to the extraordinary increase in mobile data demand with the proliferation of smartphones and tablets.

AIS have 17.5 MHz on the 900-MHz spectrum for 2G mobile service under a concession agreement with state-run operator TOT. The company originally allocated 5 MHz of total spectrum for 3G service for high speed packet access but the 5 MHz spectrum is too small to efficiently support strong data (and voice) demand for its existing 37 million customers.

AIS now hold a 3G license to provide service on 15 MHz of the 2100-MHz spectrum and will stop providing 2G mobile service on the 900-MHz spectrum after its concession with TOT expires in 2015.

"It is no longer time for excuses from AIS. We are accelerating the complicated network swapping period to finish as soon as possible. We are also encouraging our 3G customers on the 900-MHz spectrum to switch to the new 3G spectrum."
Wichian Mektrakarn
Chief Executive Officer, AIS

Takorn Tantasit, secretary-general of the NBTC, said some of the 2.5 million AWN users, who were migrated by the call-transit system, had complained that they could not access full 3G services and that NBTC we will pass their complaints to the telecom committee to seek a solution to the issues as soon as possible.

Thailand’s 2nd. largest mobile operator, Dtac is expected to launch its new “TriNet” 3G service on the 2.1GHz spectrum July 23. DTAC claims they have 3.1 million subscribers waiting to move from Dtac to TriNet.

NBTC revealed that as of June 30 2013; Dtac’s Trinet had installed 881 (2.1GHz) base station sites while Real Future of True Corp had installed 92 (4G 2.1GHz) base station sites.

The five telecom operators in Thailand (including state-run TOT and CAT Telecom) have agreed to expand the mobile-number-portability system (MNP) capacity from 40,000 numbers per day to 300,000. However each operator will have a quota of only 60,000 numbers per day.

AWN, TriNet and Real Future are aiming at 10 million users each by end of 2013.

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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