Thailand’s Mobile Market End of Year 2021

Thailand’s Mobile Market end of year 2021

Thailand’s mobile market 2021 saw the Big 3 (AIS, TRUE, DTAC) – as well as the state enterprise mobile operator, National Telecom (NT) add a combined +5 million mobile subscribers year-on-year (YoY and +1 million quarter-on-quarter (QoQ).

Despite the weak economy and continues Covid-19 infections resulting in diminished purchasing power, the mobile service market saw improvements in the late part of 2021. Competition in the mobile industry remained elevated as AIS, TRUE and DTAC continued to offer low-end unlimited data plans in both prepaid and postpaid segments, in order to maintain their customer base and expand market share.

The unlimited data plans at low price, resulted in a lower average revenue per user (ARPU) for the industry and mobile revenue slightly declined following the economic environment and competition, but was offset by the significant increase in subscribers.

The merger of the two state enterprise operators, TOT and CAT Telecom in 2021, saw a +114.905 increase in active SIMs QoQ and +59.323 compared with what the two had combined YoY before the merger.

One new MVNO license (Thin MVNO) was awarded on June the 15th, to the company Central Telecom Co., Ltd. and the MVNO Redone launched its service in May.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), continued to stay in a decision-making vacuum during the second quarter, due to the delay in the establishment and endorsement of its new board.

THAILAND'S MOBILE MARKET KEY STATISTICS EOY 2021

0

Population

As of 2021

0

Mobile Connections

EoY 2021

0

Mobile Penetration

EoY 2021

0

Prepaid Market Share

EoY 2021

0

HHI

Lacks competition

0

Blended ARPU

EoY 2021

0

1GB Mobile Data

Average retail price

0

Data Usage

Avg. per sub/month

THAILAND'S BIG 3 MOBILE OPERATORS: AIS, TRUE, DTAC - END OF YEAR 2021

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

AIS
AIS

0

Mobile Subscribers

EoY 2021
+2,679,900 YoY

TRUE
TrueMoveH

0

Mobile Subscribers

EoY 2021
+1,622,000‬‬ YoY

DTAC
DTAC

0

Mobile Subscribers

EoY 2021
+705,000 YoY

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, BFKT, TrueMove H Universal Communication (TUC).
  • DTAC Group: DTAC TriNet, DTN.

AIS also has a discount sub-brand named GOMO and DTAC has a similar discount sub-brand named FinnMobile. The subscribers of these sub-brands are not disclosed separately but included in the main brand’s total subscriber numbers.

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.

At the end of 2021, the big three, AIS, TRUE and DTAC as well as NT – had all managed to grow their subscribers both quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) and year-on-year (YoY).

Advanced Info Service (AIS) – The market leader

AIS, ended 2021 with 44.11 million subscribers, up 458.800 QoQ and 2.679.900 YoY.

TrueMove H – The strongest customer acquisition performance in the market

TrueMove H (TRUE’s mobile service brand), achieved another quarter of subscriber growth, adding 233.000‬ QoQ and 1.622.000‬‬ YoY to end 2021 with a total of 32.25 million subscribers.

TrueMove H became the second largest mobile operator (by subscribers) when it took over the second spot from DTAC in 2016 and has continued to show the strongest customer acquisition performance among the telcos in Thailand.

DTAC – Ending years of bleeding subscribers?

Towards the end of 2021, DTAC seems to have managed to stop its four years streak of bleeding subscriber. DTAC managed to add 287.000 subscribers/connections QoQ and 705.000 YoY, ending 2021 with a total of 19.56 million subscribers/connections.

Chart 1: AIS, TRUE, DTAC: Mobile Subscribers Q4 2020 to Q4 2021 / เอไอเอส ดีแทค ทรู 2564

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

AT A GLANCE: AIS, TRUE, DTAC & NATIONAL TELECOM (NT) - END OF YEAR 2021

AIS
AIS
  • Mobile subscribers:
    44.1 million
  • Postpaid:
    11.52 million
  • Prepaid:
    32.59 million
  • 5G Subscribers:
    2.2 million
  • Blended ARPU:
    THB 224
  • MVNO Partners:
    None
  • Total Spectrum:
    1.420MHz
    (*1450MHz)
  • Base Stations:
    3G: 46,000 | 4G: 115,100 | 4G/5G: 19,000
  • Mobile Revenue:
    THB 117.2 billion
  • Total Assets:
    THB 356.22 billion
  • Total Liabilities:
    THB 274.39 billion
  • Total Revenue:
    THB 181.33 billion
  • Net Profit:
    THB 26.92 billion

*Including network rental agreement with National Telecom

TRUE
TrueMoveH
  • Mobile subscribers:
    32.2 million
  • Postpaid:
    10.97 million
  • Prepaid:
    21.28 million
  • 5G Subscribers:
    2+ million
  • Blended ARPU:
    THB 205
  • MVNO Partners:
    None
  • Total Spectrum:
    990MHz
    (*1,020MHz)
  • Base Stations:
    N/A – 16K under the infrastructure fund (DIF)
  • Mobile Revenue:
    THB 79.75 billion
  • Total Assets:
    THB 624.91 billion
  • Total Liabilities:
    THB 543.09 billion
  • Total Revenue:
    THB 143.65 billion
  • Net Profit:
    THB -1.428 billion

*Including network rental agreement with National Telecom

DTAC
DTAC
  • Mobile subscribers:
    19.5 million
  • Postpaid:
    6.18 million
  • Prepaid:
    13.37 million
  • 5G Subscribers:
    N/A
  • Blended ARPU:
    THB 244
  • MVNO Partners:
    None
  • Total Spectrum:
    270MHz
    (*330MHz)
  • Base Stations:
    3G: 39.500 | 4G: 63.500 | 4G/5G: 12.500
  • Mobile Revenue:
    THB 54.63 billion
  • Total Assets:
    THB 164.31 billion
  • Total Liabilities:
    THB 144.14 billion
  • Total Revenue:
    THB 81.32 billion
  • Net Profit:
    THB 3.365 billion

*Including network rental agreement with National Telecom

NATIONAL TELECOM
National Telecom NT
  • Mobile subscribers:
    3.4 million
  • Postpaid:
    283,000
  • Prepaid:
    3.14 million
  • 5G Subscribers:
    None
  • Blended ARPU:
    N/A
  • MVNO Partners:
    4
  • Total Spectrum:
    **540MHz (+access to AIS and TRUE)
  • Base Stations:
    3G/4G: 10.000 + 11.000 from AIS = 21.000
  • Mobile Revenue:
    N/A
  • Total Assets:
    THB 300 billion
  • Total Liabilities:
    N/A
  • Total Revenue:
    THB 101.67 billion
  • Net Profit:
    THB 3.14 billion

** Excluding capacity to AIS, TRUE, DTAC

NATIONAL TELECOM (NT) - END OF YEAR 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 Plc or NT in short, on January 7, 2021.

The two operators CAT Telecom and TOT were the only operators in Thailand hosting MVNOs partners on their networks. With the merger of the two in 2021, the MVNO’s wholesale negotiation and access to network in Thailand – shrank to one.

National Telecom (NT) Plc.
National Telecom NT

0

Active SIMs

EoY 2021
+59,323 YoY

NT, which the former Minister of Digital Economy said would become the third largest mobile operator in Thailand – was able to add 114,905‬ subscribers QoQ and 59.323 YoY compared to the combined subscriber base the two, now merged state enterprises had in Q4 2020. NT ended 2021 with 3.42 million subscribers.

Chart 2: Active SIM at National Telecom (NT) Q1 2021 – Q4 2021

MOBILE VIRTUAL NETWORK OPERATORS (MVNO) IN THAILAND 2021

The two state enterprise operators (now National Telecom) had four active MVNOs on their networks EoY 2021.

Penguin SIM
MVNO Penguin SIM

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Active SIMs

EoY 2021
-4,112 YoY

iKool 3G
MVNO iKool

0

Active SIMs

EoY 2021
-32 YoY

Feels
MVNO Feels

0

Active SIMs

EoY 2021
+22,258 YoY

Redone
MVNO Redone Thailand

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Active SIMs

EoY 2021
+1.888 YoY

The four 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)
  • Redone by the company Redone Network (Thailand) Co., Ltd (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.

The MVNO Redone launched announced its service in the Thai market in May, 2021 but it wasn’t until October, 2021 that the first active SIMs were officially registered with 1.154 – followed by 1.630 in November and 1.888 at the end of December, 2021.

See a more detailed rundown of MVNOs in Thailand EoY 2021

  • In Q4 2021, the MVNO Penguin lost -472 active SIMs, quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) and -4.112 compared to Q4 2020.
  • The oldest MVNO alive in Thailand, iKool3G had 2.219 active SIMs, -8 QoQ and -32 year-on-year (YoY) .
  • Redone recorded 1.888 active SIMs at the end of Q4 2021.
  • Feels managed to gain +15.987 active SIMs compared to last quarter and +18.114 YoY, and is thereby (again) Thailand’s largest MVNO by active SIMs. Feels growth takes the combined amount of active MVNO SIMs to 54.629 – but still a very small drop in the ocean compared to the total 99.41 million active SIMs in the Thai market.

Chart 3: MVNOs: Penguin SIM, iKool, Feels, Redone – SIMs with active users from Jan 2021- Dec 2021

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

MARKET SHARE OF THAILAND'S MOBILE OPERATORS EOY 2021

The Big 3 operators, AIS, TRUE and DTAC – enjoy complete market dominance with a combined 96.5% market share of the 99,409,947 total mobile connections in the Thai market.

Chart 4: Mobile operators market share by subscribers in Thailand EoY 2021 / ส่วนแบ่งการตลาด ค่ายมือถือ 2564

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

HHI: 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 end of 2021 was 3,421 – showing a highly concentrated market lacking competition.

See also – A deep dive into the TRUE/DTAC merger in Thailand

Table: Thailand’s Mobile Market 2021 – Herfindahl Hirschman Index (HHI)

OPERATORSMARKET SHARE %SQUARE OF MARKET SHARE
AIS44.38%1969.5844
TRUE32.44%1052.3536
DTAC19.68%387.3024
NATIONAL TELECOM (NT)3.45%11.9025
MVNOs0.05%0.0025
4 MNOs + 4 MVNOs100%HHI 3421.1454

5G ADOPTION RATE THAILAND VS. 2G TO 3G TO 4G • PERIOD FIRST 11 MONTH

2G to 3G

In May 2014, 55 million 2G SIMs (57.8% of the total 95M subscribers) in Thailand had migrated to 3G – in just 11 months since 3G became commercially available in Thailand

2G/3G to 4G

By the end of year 2016, 17 million 3G SIMs (20% of total subscribers) had migrated to 4G LTE, 11 months after 4G became commercially available in Thailand, representing 20% of the total mobile subscribers at the time.

3G/4G to 5G

5G launched commercially in Thailand in October 2020. 11 month later, AIS and TrueMove claimed 3.25M 5G subscribers = 3.3% of total a total 98.28 million mobile subscribers back then.

At the end of 2021 there was 4.2 million 5G subscribers in Thailand (AIS 2.2M and TrueMove 2M). DTAC launched 5G towards the end of 2021 but have not shared any subscribers numbers. National Telecom (NT) has not launched 5G yet and therefore also none of the MVNOs are able to offer 5G.

5G adoption rate vs. 2G to 3G t 4G • Period first 11 months

5G ADOPTION RATE THAILAND VS 2G TO 3G TO 4G PERIOD FIRST 11 MONTH

A year went by with National Telecom (NT) still haven’t found a way to commercialize or utilize the 20 MHz slot they (CAT Telecom) won on the 700 MHz spectrum range during the auctions in 2020. NT (TOT) also won 200 MHz of bandwidth on the 26 GHz spectrum range at the same auction.

MOBILE SPECTRUM - EOY 2021

Mobile Network Operator Spectrum Thailand End of Year 2021

Thailand: Mobile Network Operator Spectrum 2021 - Pre-TRUE/DTAC merger

INTERNET OF THINGS (IoT) NUMBER ALLOCATION - EOY 2021

Table: Internet of Things (IoT) number allocation and usage by end of year 2021

OPERATORTYPE OF IOT NUMBERALLOCATEDUSED
AWN (AIS)Public Number500,000338,639
Private Network Number*10,00065,165
Total510,000403,804
   
TrueMoveH (TRUE)Public Number300,000
Private Network Number*
Total300,000
Total
Public Number800,000338,639
Private Network Number*10,00065,165
Total810,000403,804

*Private Network Numbers is allocated in a group of 10,000 numbers with 10 digits that can be expanded up to 14 digits, so it can be expanded up to 100,000,000 numbers.

THAILAND'S MOBILE MARKET END OF YEAR 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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