Data demand persuades Telenor to splurge on 4G [Bangkok Post, Thailand]
(Bangkok Post (Thailand) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Sept. 06--Telenor of Norway, the majority shareholder of Total Access Communication (DTAC), is ready to invest in fourth-generation mobile broadband service in Thailand after its local operating unit posted "unexpectedly high" data revenue growth.
Sigve Brekke, executive vice-president and head of Asia operations at Telenor Group, said the group is ready to make Thailand its fifth country with 4G. It already provides 4G services in Norway, Sweden, Malaysia and Hungary.
Telenor already provides mobile services in 13 countries, including six in Asia, serving 135 million mobile users.
"Thailand [via DTAC] contributed the largest proportion of revenue in Asia," he said.
Mr Brekke described the take-up of 3G service in Thailand as "surprisingly running hot", evidenced by the strong growth of mobile data traffic and heavy sales of smartphones and tablets here.
DTAC, Thailand's second-largest mobile operator, posted a second-quarter net profit of 3 billion baht, up by 3.8% year-on-year. Revenue during the quarter increased by 13.5% year-on-year to 24.5 billion baht.
For the first half of this year, DTAC posted a net profit of 5.97 billion baht, a marginal rise of 2.4% from 5.83 billion in the same period last year.
Mr Brekke attributed the strong revenue growth to a "crazy increase" in mobile data usage, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and the availability of 3G services.
3G and 4G can increase internet penetration in big cities as well as rural areas, important in a country like Thailand, he said, as it can boost the GDP of the country. He cited studies that indicate with every 10% of internet penetration in a country, GDP can improve by 3-5%.
Mr Brekke said Telenor is ready to invest more in Thailand to stretch its 3G network across the country.
DTAC increased its minimum investment level for 2013 to 14.5 billion baht from 12.5 billion to cover 50% of the population on its 2.1-gigahertz 3G network this year.
"It's time for us to provide 4G technology for data-hungry users in Thailand," he said.
Telenor aims to roll out its 2G and 3G network in Myanmar by mid-2014 under an undisclosed investment once it receives a mobile licence from the Myanmar government to provide services, expected by next month.
"We aim to complete the nationwide roll-out of our 2G and 3G network to cover 80% of population within five years," he said.
Only 7% of Myanmar's 60 million people have mobile phones, while the penetration rate of mobile data users there was only 1-2%.
Mr Brekke said Telenor will introduce low-cost mobile services in Myanmar to boost subscribers, using the successful marketing strategies practiced by DTAC.
Shares of DTAC closed yesterday on the SET at 104.50 baht, up two baht, in trade worth 187.64 million baht.
(c)2013 the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand)
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