True 4G launch trumps rivals; AIS claims 800,000 users at official 2100MHz launch; DTAC waits until June

9 May 2013

Thailand’s third largest cellco True Corp yesterday became the first operator in the country to launch commercial 4G mobile services by switching on its 2100MHz network offering both 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) and 3G W-CDMA/HSPA services. At launch True’s new network is limited in scope, comprising 500 LTE base stations and the same number of cell sites offering 2100MHz 3G services, compared to its existing 3G 850MHz network of 13,000 base stations nationwide. As reported by the Bangkok Post, the 4G network covers densely populated areas including Bangkok’s central business districts of Siam Square, Silom Road and Sathon Road, and will be expanded to 15 major provinces this year including Chon Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Surat Thani and Ayutthaya. True added that by year-end it will increase the number of its 4G and 3G base stations on the 2100MHz spectrum to 2,000 and 5,000, respectively, while its total 3G 850MHz base stations will also rise, by around 1,000 to 14,000 this year. True’s 4G subscription packages start from THB699 (USD23.70) per month for an ‘unlimited’ data service – aimed at users of the handful of LTE-compatible devices currently available in Thailand, whilst the average price per MB (THB1) for its 3G users is half the cost of data access on True’s 2G network. True’s management stated that the operator will spend an additional THB15 billion on network expansion this year, and is aiming for ‘six million 4G subscribers by year-end compared with 3.2 million at present for 3G’.

The launch of True’s 4G/3G 2100MHz network came the day after market leader Advanced Info Service (AIS) officially launched its commercial 2100MHz W-CDMA/HSPA network. AIS soft launched 2100MHz services on 9 April to existing customers with compatible devices, targeting at least 200,000 users in the introductory month, but at the official launch on 7 May it declared that it had exceeded this expectation, reporting that it already had 800,000 3G 2100MHz users.

Thailand’s second largest mobile operator DTAC confirmed yesterday that it will stick to a plan to commercially launch its 2100MHz 3G network in June.