Thailand’s MVNO Market 2016 – CAT Telecom, Penguin, Myworld3G

Thailand’s MVNO Market 2016 – CAT Telecom

The MVNOs on Thailand’s second state enterprise telecom operator “CAT Telecom”, is apparently not doing as well as we thought, according to a late year statement from CAT Telecom’s president.

Although CAT Telecom’s own service “MY” managed to do well in 2016, ending with 1.6 million subscribers, President, Colonel Sanpachai Huvanandana told “The Nation” newspaper back in October that CAT Telecom’s three most active MVNOs had around 100,000 subscribers in total.

They are:

  • Penguin SIM (White Space Co., Ltd)
  • Myworld3G (Data CDMA Co., Ltd)
  • Open SIM (Samart i-Mobile)

Very odd, because just 25 days earlier, Chaiyod Chirabowornkul. CEO of the MVNO Penguin, told Bangkok Post that they had reached 300,000 subscribers, and was acquiring an average of 80,000 new subscribers per month.


02 March 2016

Chief marketing officer Pakorn Pannachet said “We expect to have 300,000 to 500,000 customers in the first year of operation, and we are expecting to break even by 2017 with 900,000 users.

02 May 2016

Chaiyod Chirabowornkul, CEO of Whitespace and chairman of the Thailand MVNO Club, said the Penguin MVNO had quickly acquired about 100,000 subscribers after the service was launched one month go.

20 June 2016

Pakorn Pannachate, chief marketing officer, said “since its inception three months ago, the WhiteSpace MVNO Penguin has 100,000 users with average revenue per user of 100 baht a month”.

06 October 2016

The company currently has 300,000 subscribers, three months ahead of the company’s initial target, said chief executive Chaiyod Chirabowornkul, and added that the MVNO acquired an average of 80,000 new subscribers per month

“We’re sure we are now No.1 in the local MVNO market, overtaking the leading position from Samart I-Mobile,”

GROWTH HISTORY OF MVNO PENGUIN IN 2016 – (According to the statements above)

MVNO Penguin Subscribers 2016

Which would make the CAT Telecom’s MVNO subscribers look something like this:

MVNOs on CAT Telecom 2016

However, given the statement from CAT Telecom’s president, that the top MVNOs does not have more than a combined subscriber base of 100,000 – it looks like this.



The other MVNO newcomer on CAT Telecom was MyWorld3G from the company Data CDMA Communication. The MVNO started the year by saying it was ready to invest THB 200 million on its business development plan to achieve its target of securing at least a million subscribers in 2016.

“We are confident of securing at least one million users within this year and will break even with only 100,000 users,” Data CDMA Communication president Nipon Chucherd told “The Nation” newspaper in February.

Myworld3G, officially launched its MVNO on CAT Telecom in March, after a soft launch in February achieving around 4,000 subscribers. The MVNO is targeting Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking services and wireless payments, it also signed a contract with a MLM company in 2016 providing data for a wearable device (watch) being sold as part of the MLM setup.


At the end of the year some of CAT’s MVNO partners asked the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to help them seek new contract conditions from CAT Telecom. Some of the MVNOs have even considered pulling out of the business, claiming that they cannot afford the network-rental fees charged by their host network, CAT Telecom.

Samart i-Mobile, complained to the NBTC about what the MVNO deemed unfair price competition from CAT Telecoms own “MY” 3G service.

CAT Telecoms president, Colonel Sanpachai Huvanandana. said CAT was aware of the problems the MVNOs were facing, and would cancel a package they had offered its “MY” subscribers, which was unlimited data usage for only THB 139 per month.

All of CAT’s MVNO contracts are in effect until 2025 and will face a penalty if they terminate the contracts early.

Samart’s MVNO i-Mobile returned 300,000 of its 500,000 mobile-phone numbers to the NBTC, citing the tough competition from “MY”. Samart’s MVNO “Open SIM” claimed to have 40,000 subscribers, while its second MVNO i-mobile Plus (moved from TOT to CAT) had 10,000 subscribers.


CAT Telecom holds 15 MHz of the 850 MHz spectrum and its right to use it will expire in 2025. The 850 MHz is shared with True Corp who controls 80% of the capacity. CAT has 14,536 3G base stations nationwide.

Surapan Meknavin, a board director of CAT Telecom, said CAT’s 850MHz network capacity can serve at least 4 million customers. CAT’s own “MY” service currently occupies 1.6 million subscribers.

CAT Telecom also has an idle 45 MHz bandwidth on the 1,800 MHz spectrum, which will expire in 2018.


In September, CAT Telecom announced its plan to launch 4G service as part of its “MY” brand mobile phone operations. The new 4G service will utilize the True Move H network of True Corp, after CAT and True reached a network-roaming deal recently.

The 4G roaming deal with True is part of CAT’s agreement with True Move H Universal Communication (TUC) which will see TUC paying a rental fee of THB 9.3 billion to CAT Telecom for the use of CAT’s 850MHz network.
TUC will pay THB 4.1 billion in cash within 8 years and the remaining THB 5.2 billion will be paid to CAT Telecom in the form of 4G network capacity on the 1800/2100MHz band within 10 years.

According to TUC’s conditions in the agreement, the 4G network is exclusively for CAT’s “MY” service and therefore none of the MVNOs will be able to use it.

CAT expect to earn revenue of THB 24 billion in 2017, of which THB 21 billion will be from selling 80% of its 850MHz spectrum capacity to True Corp. THB 2.6 billion would be generated by its “MY” 3G/4G services, up from THB 1.6 billion this year, while THB 400 million would be contributed by the MVNO partners, up from THB 160 million in 2016.

“MY” posts an average monthly revenue per prepaid user of THB 80, while its post-paid service brings in THB 420 a month.

This year CAT will spend THB 280 million on marketing campaigns for its “MY” service, and another THB 100 million on handset promotional packages, aiming to have at least 2 million subscribers by the end of 2017. CAT’s marketing budget in 2016 was only THB 100 million.


CAT said is expected to acquire two more MVNO partners soon, and for the third or fourth (We stopped counting) year in a row, CAT Telecom announced that the MVNO Tesco Mobile would launch soon, as MVNO on CAT Telecom – but once again it turned out that “soon” was also not 2016.

Given the shrinking capacity for CAT’s MVNOs, the deadline on spectrum, the less attractive 850MHz band, talk of possible merger with TOT, one can understand if Tesco Mobile is waiting or looking somewhere else for better options.

See Also: Thailand’s MVNO Market 2016 – TOT, 2100MHz, 2300MHz

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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