National Telecom (NT) announce a profit of THB 1.3 billion and plans for 2023

Thailand’s state enterprise telecom operator, National Telecom (NT) Public Company Limited.

Thailand’s state enterprise telecom operator, National Telecom (NT) has announced its operating results for 2022 with a profit of THB 1.3 billion, as well as plans for its operations in 2023.

On January 7, 2021, the two state owned telecom operators in Thailand: Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT Telecom), and Telephone Organization of Thailand (TOT), was merged into a new state enterprise entity – named National Telecom Public Company Limited or NT in short. Today, Colonel Sapchai Huvanandana, President of NT, announced that NT’s 11-month operating results showed:

  • Total Revenue of THB 84,013 million,
  • Total Expenditures of THB 82,369 million,
  • Net Profit of THB 1,644 million.

NT estimate that for the end of year 2022, Total Revenue would be THB 91,528 million, Total Expenditures THB 90,209 million and a Net Profit of THB 1,319 million.

  • Revenue from NT’s mobile business group (Mobile) was THB 50,820 million or 55% of revenue,
  • NT’s Telephony business (Fixed Line), Internet and Satellite totaled THB 19,930 million or 22% of revenue,
  • NT’s Infrastructure and Telecommunication towers was THB 9,486 million or 10% of revenue,
  • NT’s International Business revenue was THB 2,178 million (3% of revenue),
  • NT’s IDC & Cloud businesses total revenue was THB 3,902 million (4% of revenue) and other income was THB 5,212 million (6% of revenue).

In comparison NT’s Revenue and Expenditures End of Year 2021 was:

Total Revenues (incl. *USO fees): THB 101.672 billion
Total Expenditures: THB 98.530 billion
Net Profit 2021 = THB 3.142 billion

*Additional income from Universal Service Obligation (USO) fees from the period 2011-2012. Without the USO fees, NT would have had a Total Revenue of: THB 98.254 billion, resulting in a total loss of THB -276 million in 2021

Plans for NTs operations in 2023

According to Colonel Sanpachai Huvanandana, President of National Telecommunication Public Company Limited (NT), there are 4 action plan items for the direction of NTs operations in 2023:

1. Reduce the size of the organization with a goal to reduce the amount of employees within the organization – from the existing 14,000 people to 9,000-10,000 people before 2025. Reduce costs, reduce duplicate and redundant processes resulting from the merger. There is an early retirement project or Mutual Separation Plan (MSP) to reduce overall operating expenses by 15-20%. NT estimate this will take about 1-3 years.

2. Respond to government policies. as a telecommunication state enterprise.

This at first glance may not say much, other than sucking up to its owners but it also includes between the lines, that the Ministry of Digital Economy and Social (NT’s owner) continue to come up with – or move some kind of business (or budgets), that can finance (help benefit) NT.

3. Utilize NT’s existing infrastructure resources, including 25,000 mobile telecommunication towers nationwide, 9 international submarine cable systems, 5 spectrum bands totaling 540 MHz, underground conduits with a total distance of 4,600 kilometers, 4 million core kilometers of fiber-optic cables, international telephony phone calls and 13 data centers across the country.

4. Create new business opportunities to increase revenue for the organization. by investing more in the Digital Service Business Group with plans to spin off 1-2 digital service businesses in the areas of Cloud and IT Security to operate more competitively and profitably than traditional infrastructure.

NT's future investments - 700 MHz and 5G

In addition to the above, NT said it plans to transform its organization (copy everyone else) – from a telecommunication organization to a tech company that will focus more on digital business segments. Especially within health service in both public and private hospital groups.

NT’s future investment, also includes investing in 5G business, which a total investment budget of THB 37 billion, to get both its 700 MHz and 26 GHz spectrum up and running plus an operating budget of THB 36 billion, which NT says is its budget throughout the operating period.

NT (through CAT Telecom), obtained 20 MHz on the 700MHz spectrum range, at an auction 3 years ago!!! (February 2020) with a bid of THB 34.3 billion but still hasn’t managed to do anything with it. It has tried for years to get AIS to put its signature on a renting deal for 10 MHz of NT’s 20 MHz, leaving NT with the other 10 MHz.

TOT secured also spectrum at the auction, spending THB 1.8 billion on 400MHz of 26 GHz spectrum and although it has done some trials here and there – it still hasn’t come up with anything commercially interesting.

Colonel Sanpachai Huvanandana, President National Telecom (NT) Public Company Limited

“This year, NT plans to invest more in digital services. Including investing in the 5G network, what NT will continue to do, is to maintain the existing customer base. The merger between TRUE-DTAC will affect NT’s revenue in terms of cell tower, as rental revenue from the two will decrease. AIS’s acquisition of the Internet Service Provider 3BB will affect in terms of broadband services where NT has a market share of 20%. NT will find new methods or channels to provide additional services”

More 4G than 5G – and all cramped in on just 10 MHz

As can be seen from the budget, the current main business for NT is mobile network service and broadband internet. Due to the high cost of broadband Internet services and the intense competition in the field of ancillary services, NT says it will focus on service quality to retain its customer base.

While NT says its Wireless Business Group has a plan to develop 700 MHz and 26 GHz frequencies, the 700 MHz investment is – despite NT’s announcement of investing in 5G – an investment in installing a 4G network to replace its 850 MHz, 2100MHz and 2300MHz spectrum, that expires two years from now (2025), to take care of its remaining customers of about 2 million, MVNO partners and to provide IoT services across the country.

Question is how much “quality” does NT think they can provide when stuffing all this in, on just 10MHz on its 700MHz that hasn’t even gotten a budget approval yet?

Chart: National Telecom (NT) PLC – Active SIMs Q4 2019 – Q3 2022

Chart: National Telecom (NT) PLC - Active SIMs Q4 2019 - Q3 2022

NT has lost 1,471,512 active SIM/customers since the merger between CAT Telecom and TOT in Q1 2022

Despite new opportunities screaming in its face, it is business as usual at NT

With the merger of TRUE-DTAC into “TRUE” the mobile market in Thailand will change from 3 big mobile operators to just two = TRUE and AIS. At the same time, AIS is looking for regulatory approval for its acquisition of 3BB internet which will also consolidate the broadband market to be between TRUE and AIS.

Where is the will, passion, drive, push, etc., to take advantage of this opportunity at NT? There are plenty of opportunities to reap from this, as millions of users and enterprises are getting trapped and lost in those mergers.

It is like NT is standing at an open ocean of opportunities, but have instead decided to sit in a mud hole on the beach with swim belt, arm floats, life jacket and a sunblock on its nose, playing with its own navel.

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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