Currently, wireless internet broadband service in Thailand is largely offered via 3G networks on the 2.1GHz frequency with bandwidth capped at only 15 MHz per license, which is insufficient for growing mobile data demand. However, 900 and 1800 MHz4G license auctions are to be held between November 11 and December 15, 2015, and that will likely help the license holders to accommodate rising wireless broadband demand with broader bandwidths and higher service efficiency, aided by 4G technology that is more stable and 4-5 times faster than 3G.
We at KResearch hold the view that during the introductory phase of 4G service, wireless telecom service providers will likely compete to become the technology leader and will be introducing promotional service packages targeting consumers with high purchasing power and a need for wireless data capability. Therefore, tech-savvy consumers who can afford 4G-enabled mobile phones and tablets – residing largely in Bangkok, nearby vicinities and other large urban centers – will likely be the first to switch to 4G service.
Looking ahead, we expect that 4G mobile broadband internet users will increase rapidly as the economy improves amid intense marketing campaigns staged by telecom providers to attract general consumers. However, this consumer segment tends to place some importance on service charges. Since fees for 4G voice and data services are to be set at lower than 3G fees, this should be helpful towards inducing them to switch to 4G service.
Given this, KResearch expects that the number of 3G and 4G mobile internet users will increase steadily in 2016 to perhaps to 38.4-39.7 million accounts, representing a 11.0-14.7 percent increase over 2015, and a 60.4-62.6 percent penetration rate.
We also believe that 4G service will directly benefit many businesses, e.g., network installers, mobile data content providers, smartphone manufacturers and distributors. Indirect benefits may go to software developers, e-commerce businesses, online education and entertainment providers.