In the past, majority of the key players in Thailand’s telecommunications industry were government-owned companies. These companies have since been privatized but remain to be regulated by the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Center, an independent state organization.
At present, the telecommunications industry in Thailand is being pushed to contribute up to 25% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2027, as part of Thailand’s Industry 4.0 roadmap. The current market of the telecom industry in Thailand is comprised of 60 million customers, making it the second-largest telecommunications market in Southeast Asia.
What opportunities await in the telecom industry in Thailand, and what can industry players do to support the acceleration of the industry? We look at what is currently driving the growth of the telecommunications industry, and how its newest offerings can nurture its development.
The telecommunications market in Thailand is highly developed and experienced robust growth in the past decade. The market is considered very mature, with a high penetration rate among Thai consumers. According to Thailand telecommunication market reports, the mobile sector has an estimated 91 million customers, and multiple SIM card use is common in the country.
While the industry made big gains, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the game. Due to the sluggish economy in the past two years, Thailand’s telecommunications industry is battling weak revenues and high capital expenditures. There are also the issues with cash crunch, franchise failures, and high debt that plague the industry.
The industry is trying to mitigate losses as it develops infrastructure for 5G connectivity, as Thailand became one of the first markets in the region to launch it in the market. Spectrum auctions and network deployments are also helping the industry accelerate its growth as the national economy recovers from the contractions caused by the pandemic.
In the past year, the merger between two of the biggest mobile network operators in Thailand, True and DTAC, has shaken up the industry. The merger, once approved by regulators, will be worth USD 8.6 billion, and can displace the current market leader, AIS. However, foreign ownership and stakeholders of both companies may raise issues, and the impending duopoly may also leave consumers without many choices and not as many benefits.
In 2022, as Thailand’s economy continues to recover, the market value of the telecommunications industry can start seeing steady growth. Increased consumption and foreign arrivals can both contribute greatly to the development of the market.
In addition, digital adoption in various industries such as manufacturing, retail, and transport will also contribute to the demand for higher connectivity. The government also backs the development of smart cities and the allocation of 5G frequencies, leading to higher demand from consumers in other parts of the country.
It's an exceptional time for Thailand’s telecommunications industry, where key players have many opportunities to expand and keep up with consumer demands. As the country’s digital transformation continues, higher connectivity and more telecom infrastructure will be required. These investments will not only benefit the sector but allow others to grow their value and offerings as well.
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