Sunday, August 2, 2015

Thais will finally get faster connectivity

BANGKOK -- Fourth-generation cellphone services will likely become available to a large number of Thais outside of Bangkok in the near future. Service providers are planning ambitious expansions.

     True, Thailand's No. 3 cellphone carrier, has started offering 20-50% discounts on 4G smartphones and other handsets.

     The cellphone service unit of Charoen Pokphand Group, Thailand's biggest conglomerate, aims to continue building 4G-compatible base stations to expand its high-speed coverage to all 77 provinces. At present, the company's 4G service area centers on Bangkok and its surroundings. True has set a goal of doubling the number of its 4G service subscribers to 2 million by the end of the year.

     Total Access Communication, meanwhile, is working toward increasing the number of its 4G-compatible base stations to 6,500 by the end of 2016. Thailand's second-ranked cellphone service provider will likely spend around 20 billion baht ($570 million) on the effort. The company aims by the end of the year to increase subscriber numbers to 2.5 million, double the current figure, through promotion campaigns.

Great expectations

In Thailand, 4G services based on the LTE technology were launched in 2013 by True and 2014 by Total Access. But the frequency spectrum available for 4G services was insufficient. Advanced Info Service, the country's leading mobile phone carrier, does not offer 4G service yet.

     This will likely change soon. The company is expected to begin rolling out 4G service early next year. This follows a decision by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to conduct an auction for new 4G frequency spectrum in November.

     Companies other than the three major mobile phone carriers also expected to bid for the spectrum. The auction will likely mark the beginning of a large-scale 4G mobile phone services rollout in Thailand.

     The expansion of 4G is expected to provide a shot in the arm for not only telecommunications companies, but also related businesses. The government estimates that the expansion will prompt 260 billion baht worth of investment by businesses for adding base stations, expanding e-commerce services, developing smartphone applications and other related endeavors.


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