Advanced Info Service (AIS) extended its lead in Thailand’s mobile market in the fourth quarter of 2009 by adding a net 490,600 new subscribers, higher than closest rival DTAC’s 386,000 net quarterly additions. AIS’ rate of take-up also increased from its third-quarter increase of 380,300, and by the end of December 2009 it had a total of 28.8 million subscribers, compared to DTAC’s 19.7 million. AIS also booked a fourth quarter net profit of THB4.1 billion (USD123.6 million), a near-tenfold increase on the THB420 million it posted in the same period of 2008, although its business in the year-ago quarter was negatively affected by political protests which closed Bangkok’s international airports and led to reduced network traffic. The year-on-year rise in 4Q09 net income followed four consecutive quarters of annualised decreases in AIS’ bottom-line. For the full year 2009, the cellco recorded a net profit of THB17.1 billion, up by 4% compared to the previous year. The Shin Corp subsidiary announced that it will cut its investment budget for 2010 to a record low of THB6.2 billion, largely because of the ongoing delays to Thailand’s 2100MHz 3G mobile licensing. AIS added that it would review its capital expenditure plans once there was a clearer picture of when a licence auction could take place. The process is currently stalled by several strands of government red tape, with the two main current issues being an awaited ruling from the Council of State regarding the telecoms regulator’s authority to grant 3G concessions, and the delayed royal endorsement of four newly-elected members of the watchdog, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).