Thailand’s leading mobile operator Advanced Info Service (AIS) reported a 4.5% year-on-year decline in net profit to THB9.481 billion (USD293 million) in the first quarter of 2014, as financial performance was inhibited by tough competition, political unrest and lower consumer spending. In 1Q14 service revenue, excluding interconnection, was stable quarter-on-quarter but dropped 1.8% year-on-year, at THB28.967 billion, as the cellco said that Thailand’s escalating political tension during the quarter led to slower consumer spending, reflected by a contraction in voice service turnover of 12% y-o-y and 4.9% q-o-q as well as a slowdown in device units sold. However, non-voice revenue continued to expand, by 25% y-o-y and 12% q-o-q due to growing demand for mobile data. In 1Q14 AIS’ 3G 2100MHz mobile customers expanded to 26 million, representing 62% of its total subscribers and 59% of revenues, after the operator rolled out 16,800 base stations on the 2100MHz frequency band, covering 90% of the population.
During 1Q14 some Thai anti-government protesters called for a boycott of companies ‘linked’ to the Shinawatra family (the original backers of AIS before it was sold to Singaporean investors). In the latest development today (7 May 2014) it was reported that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of exiled former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, has been ordered to step down by the Thai Constitutional Court over abuse of power charges alongside nine cabinet ministers, following months of political deadlock.
Elsewhere, AIS confirmed that its subsidiary DPC has closed down its 2G 1800MHz GSM network, and declared that the spectrum is now ready to be handed back to the regulator for the upcoming auction of technology neutral (4G) licences set for August.