In the third quarter of 2013, Thailand’s largest cellco by revenue and users, Advanced Info Service (AIS), reported that total revenue decreased by 0.7% year-on-year and 7% quarter-on-quarter to THB33.477 billion (USD1.068 billion), due to the change in interconnection rate from THB1 per minute to THB0.45 per minute starting from 1 July. Service revenue excluding interconnection was THB27.964 billion, an increase of 4.1% y-o-y supported by mobile data growth, but dropped 0.4% q-o-q due to softer voice revenue. In July-September 2013 AIS recorded EBITDA of THB15.329 billion, relatively flat y-o-y and down by 2.7% q-o-q due to rapid 3G 2100MHz network expansion. Net profit in the three-month period decreased by 5.1% y-o-y and 9.3% q-o-q to THB8.341 billion, due to higher depreciation and amortisation (THB4.338 billion, up 15% y-o-y and 8.8% q-o-q on 2100MHz network investment and licence amortisation while partly offset by lower amortisation of assets under the 2G build-transfer-operate [BTO] concession).
In 3Q13, total AIS subscribers reached 39 million with a net addition of 1.46 million in three months mainly from the pre-paid segment following recent regulation to lengthen pre-paid validity resulting in lower pre-paid churn. Having launched its commercial 3G 2100MHz network in May this year, AIS registered a total of 10.471 million subscribers under its 3G 2100MHz licence at the end of September, up from 3.946 million quarter-on-quarter, and now representing 27% of the total subscriber base. Customers on its 2G network continued to decline, falling to 28.653 million, down from 33.720 million the previous quarter. 3G 2100MHz users generated 27% of service revenue excluding interconnection in 3Q13. Smartphone penetration reached 24% in the total subscriber base at 30 September 2013, compared to 16% a year earlier.
CAPEX of THB19 billion was invested in the first nine months of 2013, against the three-year CAPEX budget of THB70 billion to build the 3G 2100MHz network, and AIS said it has now achieved 70% network coverage of the population with 9,500 3G 2100MHz base stations in all 77 Thai provinces. It targets the expansion of coverage to 90% in 2014.