Blessings in disguise?
Third-generation (3G) mobile service deployment could be a welcome New Year gift for Thai people _ and is being touted as the key driver of continous solid growth of the telecom industry.
After gathering dust on the shelf for years, Thailand's 3G auction finally took off, with commercial service by the operators expected in the second quarter of 2013.
There is good and bad news on the 3G service front.
The good news is that mobile users in Thailand will be able to experience much faster data transfer speeds and improved access to multimedia services.
Mobile phone operators are likely to reduce the prices of their 3G data tariffs, offering unlimited data to stimulate the market.
This could kick off a price war and significantly expand the take-up of 3G services in Thailand, though the affordability of devices still remains a major barrier to wider 3G adoption.
TrueMove has foreseen that 3G tariffs are set to be slashed by at least 50% as operators hope the price cut will boost their higher-margin data revenues.
But the bad news is that Thai people still have limited 3G services from the existing trio of 2G network operators. This domination enables the big three operators to control everything from price to quality in the Thai mobile market.
Consumer protection groups, meanwhile, are watching closely to see how the operators cut their mobile tariffs as stipulated by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission.
Price reductions at least should make up for the loss of national revenue due to the sale of cheap 3G licences. It should be returned as benefits for consumers.