Thailand’s Mobile Market as of Q1 2021

Thailand’s Mobile Market as of Q1 2021

Despite the weak economy and a third wave of Covid-19 infections, the mobile market in Thailand managed to bounce back in Q1 2021 with a strong subscriber growth of +2.2 million compared to the previous quarter loss of -2.3 million.

The competition between the Big 3 (AIS, TrueMove and DTAC), was stable with unlimited data packages and device bundling campaigns, as key attractions amid continued impact from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Although the Big 3 attempted to uplift average revenue per user (ARPU), by introducing larger unlimited package, the new acquisition remained concentrated on smaller packages, as consumers affected by the sluggish economy were seeking value-for-money.

In April, a new wave of Covid-19 re-emerged and further strained tension on the economy. However, mobile revenue recovered QoQ due to strong subscriber acquisition, as well as demand driven by government stimulus packages into the market. Combined, AIS, TrueMove and DTAC, managed to gain +2,205,000 subscribers year on year (YoY) and +2,140,300 quarter on quarter (QoQ).

The two state enterprise telecom network operators, CAT Telecom and TOT was officially merged into a new entity; National Telecom (NT) Plc., which also managed to grow its subscribers from a combined (CAT + TOT) 3,3 million EOY 2020 to 3,4 million in Q1 2021.

No new MVNO licenses or IoT/M2M licenses was awarded in the first quarter of 2021 and the telecom regulator, The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), continued to stay in a decision-making vacuum due to a long delay in the establishment of its new board.

THAILAND'S MOBILE MARKET KEY STATISTICS Q1 2021

0

Population

As of 2020

0

Mobile Connections

Q1 2021

0

Mobile Penetration

Q1 2021

0

HHI

Lacks competition

0

1GB Mobile Data

Average retail price

0

Blended ARPU

($7.43)

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Prepaid Market Share

Q1 2021

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Data Usage

per subscriber/month

THE BIG THREE

The big three mobile operators in Thailand (AIS, TrueMove and DTAC)

AIS
AIS

(Advanced Info Service)

0

Mobile Subscribers

Q1 2021

TRUE
TrueMoveH

(TrueMove H)

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Mobile Subscribers

Q1 2021

DTAC
DTAC

(Total Access Communication)

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Mobile Subscribers

Q1 2021

Each has a set of subsidiaries, acting as license holders on various spectra, but branding services under their main brand:

  • AIS Group: AIS, AWN, AIN, ABN, DPC,
  • True Corporation: TrueMove , RealMove , TrueMove H Universal Communication (TUC).
  • DTAC Group: DTAC TriNet, DTN,

None of the three are hosting MVNOs on their networks, despite their licenses stating that minimum 10% of capacity must go to MVNOs, as described in the Notification Regarding Mobile Virtual Networks Service B.E. 2556 (2013) and in the updated MVNO notification as of July 20, 2020. However DTAC and AIS have both launched their own sub-brand services.

Chart 1: AIS, TrueMove, Dtac, Mobile Subscribers – Q1 2017 to Q1 2021

For a more detailed view, click on the small colored squares below the chart to include/exclude operators.

AIS

In 1Q21, AIS added 1.3M net additional mobile subscribers reaching a total of 42.76M. (32,132,300 Prepaid and 10,634,800 Postpaid)

Postpaid net addition was 442k driven by handset bundling and pre-to-post migration. The prepaid segment added 888k underpinned by government stimulus campaigns in the market.

Mobile data usage saw strong growth with +24% YoY to 18.2GB per subscriber/month. Unlimited plans continued to pressure ARPU, resulting in -1.2% QoQ decline in blended ARPU to THB 232.

Total revenue slightly recovered QoQ following government stimulus. For 1Q21, AIS reported a total revenue of THB 45,861M, increasing 7% YoY.

Mobile revenue was THB 29,351M, decreasing -3.2% YoY as price competition coupled with revenue loss from traveler segment but increasing 1.2% QoQ. Postpaid revenue grew 4.5% YoY and 2.6 %QoQ.

EBITDA was THB 22,580M decreasing -0.9% YoY. EBITDA margin: 49.2% up from 48.3% QoQ. Net profit was THB 6,644M, decreasing -1.7% YoY. Net profit margin declined to 14.5% compared to 15.5% QoQ.

5G mobile subscriber growth with 480k additional subs in 1Q21. Total 5G subscribers reached 719k or 6.8% of postpaid subs as of end 1Q21. 5G service saw 10-15% uplift in ARPU.

In 2020, AIS launched a sub-brand postpaid service under the “GOMO” brand. The sub-brand is used by its majority shareholder Singtel in other markets as well. There has been no information regarding subscriber status on the sub-brand.

  • Data subscribers: 70%
  • 4G-handset penetration: 79%
  • Data revenue (% of mobile revenue): 76%
  • Base stations: (3G) 48,800 | (4G) 109,000
  • Churn rate (% per month): Postpaid 1.2% | Prepaid 2.9% | Blended 2.5%
  • Voice (minute/subscriber/month): Prepaid 73 min | Postpaid 178 min | Blended 99 min
  • GB/data subscriber/month: Postpaid 22,64GB | Prepaid 16,34GB | Blended 18,19GB
DTAC

At the end of Q1 2021, DTAC’s total active subscriber base stood at 19.1M, an increase of 229k from the end of Q420.

The subscriber base increase consisted of prepaid +189k QoQ to a total of 12.94M and postpaid 40k QoQ to a total of 6.15M.

Total revenues in Q121 amounted to THB 20,516M, flat QoQ but increased 2.2% YoY.

Service revenues stabilized at 0.5% QoQ from its recovery plan and improvement from government stimulus programs in the market but declined 7.7% YoY to THB 14,149M.

Core service revenues voice and data service) declined 0.7% QoQ and 6.5% YoY to THB 13,727M

Postpaid ARPU for Q121 was THB 501, showing a decline of 0.9% QoQ and 4.8% YoY. Prepaid ARPU was THB 127 also showing a decline of 0.5% QoQ and 2.5% YoY. Blended ARPU declined 1.1% QoQ and 1.7% YoY to THB 254.

EBITDA increased 12.2% QoQ but declined 2.5% YoY. EBITDA margin for Q121 was 36.4%. However, excluding revenues from CAT Telecom lease agreements and TOT network rental, EBITDA margin stood at 43.9%. Net profit for Q121 amounted to THB 822 million.

  • Smartphone penetration: 88%
  • 4G compatible devices: 84% of DTAC’s total subscriber base
  • 4G Subscribers: 66% of DTAC’s total subscribers are 4G users (12.6m)million.
TRUEMOVE

TrueMove H reported postpaid net adds of 450k in Q1. This drove its total subscriber base to 31.2 million, of which 21.0 million were prepaid and 10.2 million were postpaid, gaining 581k net subscribers during the quarter.

The second largest mobile network operator in Thailand by subscribers, reported 700,000+ 5G users in Q1.

Core mobile revenue (combined voice and non-voice revenue) grew 1% QoQ to 18.9 billion driving TrueMove H’s service revenue to THB 19.9 billion. Revenues from international roaming and other services decreased 12.6% QoQ to THB 991 million.

CAT TELECOM AND TOT MERGED INTO NATIONAL TELECOM (NT)

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 Plc or NT in short. The two operators were and are the only ones having MVNOs on their networks.

National Telecom (NT) Plc.
National Telecom Plc NT

(National Telecom Public Company Limited)

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Active SIMs

Q1 2021

Of the total 3,471,512 active SIMs on National Telecom (NT) Plc., as of Q1 2021 – Prepaid made up 3,214,294 and the remaining 257,218 were postpaid.

The network coverage and wholesale pricing by the two state enterprises (now NT), are heavily influenced by the three private operators, due to “quasi-MVNO” and network agreements with the three.

The two, was merged on January 7, 2021, into a new state enterprise, named National Telecom Company Limited (NT)

Chart 2: Active SIM at: MY CAT & TOT Mobile PRE-MERGER: Q1 2018 – EOY 2020

Chart 3: Active SIM at National Telecom (NT) January 2021 – March 2021

THE MOBILE VIRTUAL NETWORK OPERATORS (MVNOs)

The two state enterprise operators (now National Telecom) had three active MVNOs on their networks.

Penguin SIM
MVNO Penguin SIM

(By Whitespace Co., Ltd.)

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Active SIMs

Q1 2021

iKool 3G
MVNO iKool

(By Loxley Pcl.)

0

Active SIMs

Q1 2021

Feels
MVNO Feels

(By Feels Telecom Corporation)

0

Active SIMs

Q1 2021

The three active MVNOs in the market was:

  • Penguin SIM by the company Whitespace (Host: NT)
  • ikool3G by the company Loxley. (Host: NT)
  • Feels by the company Feels Telecom (Host: NT)

In addition, NTT Communication (Thailand), is also using a MVNO license (thin MVNO) and setup to provide mobile services to some of its business clients in Thailand.

a2network (Thailand) Co., Ltd. is reselling SIMs from AIS and TRUE, bundled with its own brand “Berrymobile” to Japanese visitors and expats in Thailand.

The Big 3 operators all have MVNO licenses and are setup up on the two state enterprises under National Telecom (NT), as “Quasi MVNOs” sharing networks and capacity. AIS and DTAC with TOT and TrueMove with CAT Telecom.

  • In Q1 2021, the MVNO Penguin lost 1,797 active SIMs, compared to the previous quarter and -4,940 compared to Q1 2020.
  • The oldest MVNO alive in Thailand, iKool3G lost four active SIMs quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) and -1,289 year-on-year (YoY).
  • Feels managed to gain +4,547 active SIMs compared to last quarter but -25,289 YoY.

Chart 4: MVNOs: Penguin SIM, iKool, Feels – SIMs with active users from Q4 2018- Q1 2021

For a more detailed view, click on the small colored squares below the chart to include/exclude operators.

THE BIG 3's MARKET DOMINACE

The Big 3 operators, AIS, TrueMove and DTAC – enjoy complete market dominance with a combined 96.37% market share of the 96,571,873 total mobile connections in the market.

Chart 5: Mobile operators market share by subscribers Q1 2021.

For a more detailed view, click on the small colored squares below the chart to include/exclude operators.

A HIGHLY CONCENTRATED MARKET - LACKING COMPETITION

The Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) is a common measure of market concentration and is used to determine market competitiveness.

A market with an HHI of less than 1,500 is considered to be a competitive marketplace, an HHI of 1,500 to 2,500 to be a moderately concentrated marketplace, and an HHI of 2,500 or greater to be a highly concentrated marketplace.

The Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) in the Thai mobile market in Q1 2021 is 3,409 – showing a highly concentrated market lacking competition.

Image: Thailand’s Mobile Market Herfindahl Hirschman Index (HHI) Q1 2021.

Yozzo Thailand's Mobile Market Herfindahl Hirschman Index (HHI) Q12021

THAILAND'S MOBILE MARKET Q1 2021 INFOGRAPHICS

Author: Allan Rasmussen
Managing director at Yozzo. Allan’s expertise includes the development and execution of growth strategies, market insights, trends and opportunities, new business models and strategies
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