Thailand’s largest cellco by subscribers Advanced Info Service (AIS) has reported that its net new customer additions in the first quarter of 2013 rose to 1.375 million, compared to 420,000 added in the previous quarter and 678,000 in Q1 2012, which took its total cellular user base to 37.119 million. Post-paid users rose by 142,500 in 1Q13 (higher than 93,000 added in 1Q12) to 3.826 million, while pre-paid active SIMs increased by 1.233 million (584,000) to 33.292 million. Service revenue excluding interconnection in January-March 2013 grew 7% year-on-year and 6.4% quarter-on-quarter to THB28.466 billion (USD960 million), in line with company guidance, driven by both higher usage and increased user base, and despite capacity constraints on AIS’s 900MHz spectrum. Its number of 3G 900MHz subscribers increased to 5.3 million at 31 March 2013, up from 4.5 million three months earlier. Voice revenue was stable y-o-y but decreased 1.5% q-o-q, while AIS expects its capacity issue to be resolved after its 3G 2100MHz full commercial launch scheduled for this week.
1Q13 EBITDA increased to THB16.293 billion, up 3.8% y-o-y and 5.6% q-o-q due to stronger revenue growth offset by higher operating expenses, while the EBITDA margin was 43.5%, above 2013 guidance as the company said that there has not yet been any impact from the 3G 2100MHz network rollout. With lower amortisation expense on network infrastructure under AIS’s legacy Build-Transfer-Operate (BTO) agreements and lower corporate tax rate (reduced from 23% to 20%), quarterly net profit increased 11% y-o-y and 17% q-o-q to THB9.923 billion. The operator spent CAPEX of THB6 billion in 1Q13 as part of a three-year CAPEX budget of THB70 billion. AIS signed up a limited number of customers to its W-CDMA/HSPA+ 2100MHz service in 1Q13, with full-scale services to be launched in 20 key cities this week.