Thailand sees boost in fibre broadband sector
In the early stages of Thai’sbroadband market development, there was widespread adoption of DSL services, together with a significantly lesser deployment of cable broadband, as well as some broadband wireless access.
The transition to these other technology platforms had previously been inhibited by the Thai regulatory environment, which saw ISPs unwilling to invest in the necessary infrastructure.
Although fixed broadband penetration remains low compared to other developed Asian markets, the rate increased from 7% in 2012 to above 19% by the end of 2021. The regulator noted that the number of subscribers increased 14.3% in 2021, year-on-year, as subscribers continued to adapt to the particular requirements for broadband services during the pandemic. Sustained, though slower, growth is anticipated during the next few years as the major providers continue to rollout their fibre networks.
In recent years, fibre broadband has seen strong growth, particularly in major metropolitan areas. The sector’s major players are increasingly investing in their last-mile fibre deployments. Although the returns from this are still a long-term proposition, fibre’s cannibalisation of copper-based connections is a well-established trend in the market. This became particularly marked in 2021, when many copper-based connections were migrated to the fibre platform.
A fibre-based Metro Ethernet service offering data at up to 10Gb/s for corporate customers was introduced by True Online in 2011, focussed on corporate buildings in Bangkok. In late 2014 the company began investing THB43 billion to overhaul existing fixed and mobile platforms. Some THB33 billion was earmarked to expand its fibre broadband access network to reach around four million premises in Bangkok and other provinces.
True Online dominates the fixed broadband market, with 4.6 million subscribers as of the end of 2021 (including some 442,000 net adds in 2021 alone).
For its part, AIS launched its residential fibre broadband service, ‘AIS Fibre’ in 2015, offering speeds of up to 1Gb/s via FttP. AIS has allocated part of its THB30-35 billion capex guidance for 2022 to growing its fibre network footprint and customer base. The operator reported gaining 435,100 new customers in 2021, representing about 25% of all net additions, across the sector, for the year.Key Developments
- DTAC and True Corporation agree to merge their operations into a new entity.
- The process of migrating 700MHz spectrum from broadcasting to telecom services gets under way.
- AIS subsidiary AWN receives its 700MHz spectrum license, valid for 15 years, costing THB17.58 billion.
- TOT Corp - CAT Telecom merger concludes in the formation of new entity National Telecom.
- Work begins on the 8,000km MIST submarine cable connecting Thailand to Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, and India.
- Thailand improves data centre hub credentials as Amazon plans data centre builds and Telehouse announces a data centre set for launch in 2023.
- FttP sector continues to show strong growth in urban areas.
- Thaicom hands over Thaicom 4 and Thaicom 6 satellites to National Telecom and seeks revenue diversification beyond core satellite business.
Key companies mentioned in this report:
TOT Corp, CAT Telecom, True Corp, True Move, TT&T, AIS, DTAC, Thaicom, Triple T Broadband, AIS, DTAC, Cable Thai (CTH).