Thailand’s mobile market leader Advanced Info Service (AIS), which launched consumer fibre broadband in April 2015, has launched a campaign to ramp up subscriber take-up and put pressure on its more-established fixed network rivals by introducing what it claims is the country’s first pre-paid fibre broadband package. Previously only available on a twelve-month contract, AIS’ Fibre Home range now includes an option for an entry-level 15Mbps pre-paid package for THB500 (USD14) per month, aimed at students under the ‘Dorm Net by AIS Fibre’ banner. The AIS website says that the ‘first of its kind’ service designed specifically for students in dormitories near their campuses is initially available in 20 dormitory buildings with a total of 4,704 dwelling units in Bangkok and surrounding areas, but it plans to expand the service to cover 900 such buildings by the end of 2016. Rival Triple T Broadband (3BB) has quickly responded by slashing the monthly price of a 3BB 50Mbps broadband package from THB2,500 to THB700, the Bangkok Post reported.
At the end of March 2016 AIS achieved coverage of 2.2 million homes passed by its fibre broadband access network, spanning twelve provinces, it confirmed in its 1Q16 report, while it announced an investment budget of THB7 billion this year to cover ‘all of Bangkok’ and 24 provinces with 6.5 million fibre home passes. In its 1Q16 presentation AIS confirmed that by end-March 2016 it had signed up 74,000 fixed broadband subscribers (largely direct fibre-based, with a minority on VDSL connections), up from 44,000 reported three months earlier (and not 450,000 users as incorrectly reported by various sources this week). AIS is aiming for one million fibre broadband subscribers in 2018 and two million in 2019, when it hopes to overtake 3BB (which currently has over two million broadband accesses) for second place in the fixed internet market behind True Corp. This year alone AIS expects to reach 400,000 fibre subscribers, with around 40,000 of these on the student pre-paid package, according to a spokesperson.
In other AIS news, The Nation reports that the cellco and state-owned telco TOT are expected to sign a contract for the launch of a joint ‘trial commercial’ service on TOT’s 2100MHz spectrum shortly after the re-auction of a 900MHz licence scheduled for this Friday. ICT Minister Uttama Savanayana was quoted as saying of the TOT-AIS tie-up: ‘We’re just waiting for the Attorney-General Office to approve the final draft.’ The joint 2100MHz venture between AIS and TOT is expected to involve a ‘trial’ lasting for six months, after which they will sign related contracts under the partnership to provide 3G (and potentially 4G) services on TOT’s frequencies. AIS commercially launched 4G LTE services using its own newly-won 1800MHz and existing 2100MHz spectrum in January 2016, and in its latest report it discloses that LTE coverage is now present in all 77 provinces and is targeted to cover 50% of the population by year-end. Meanwhile, AIS – via subsidiary Advanced Wireless Network (AWN) – is the only bidder for the 900MHz licence re-auction, after True and DTAC confirmed their non-participation.