In the third quarter of 2013, Thailand’s largest cellco by revenue and users, Advanced Info Service (AIS), reported that total revenue decreased by 0.7% year-on-year and 7% quarter-on-quarter to THB33.477 billion (USD1.068 billion), due to the change in interconnection rate from THB1 per minute to THB0.45 per minute starting from 1 July. Service revenue excluding interconnection was THB27.964 billion, an increase of 4.1% y-o-y supported by mobile data growth, but dropped 0.4% q-o-q due to softer voice revenue. In July-September 2013 AIS recorded EBITDA of THB15.329 billion, relatively flat y-o-y and down by 2.7% q-o-q due to rapid 3G 2100MHz network expansion. Net profit in the three-month period decreased by 5.1% y-o-y and 9.3% q-o-q to THB8.341 billion, due to higher depreciation and amortisation (THB4.338 billion, up 15% y-o-y and 8.8% q-o-q on 2100MHz network investment and licence amortisation while partly offset by lower amortisation of assets under the 2G build-transfer-operate [BTO] concession).
In 3Q13, total AIS subscribers reached 39 million with a net addition of 1.46 million in three months mainly from the pre-paid segment following recent regulation to lengthen pre-paid validity resulting in lower pre-paid churn. Having launched its commercial 3G 2100MHz network in May this year, AIS registered a total of 10.471 million subscribers under its 3G 2100MHz licence at the end of September, up from 3.946 million quarter-on-quarter, and now representing 27% of the total subscriber base. Customers on its 2G network continued to decline, falling to 28.653 million, down from 33.720 million the previous quarter. 3G 2100MHz users generated 27% of service revenue excluding interconnection in 3Q13. Smartphone penetration reached 24% in the total subscriber base at 30 September 2013, compared to 16% a year earlier.
CAPEX of THB19 billion was invested in the first nine months of 2013, against the three year CAPEX budget of THB70 billion to build the 3G 2100MHz network, and AIS said it has now achieved 70% network coverage of the population with 9,500 3G 2100MHz base stations in all 77 Thai provinces. It targets the expansion of coverage to 90% in 2014.