Competition is heating up in the third-generation (3G) mobile broadband market now that the major mobile operators are offering low-cost smartphones bundled with free internet use.
Mobile operators offered competitive prices to lure visitors to Thailand Mobile Expo 2014, which ended yesterday. Seksan Rojjanametakul
A smartphone priced below 2,000 baht plus free use of mobile internet is the newest promotion in the local mobile market as operators try to entice customers to migrate from 2G to 3G networks.
Local 3G subscribers now number 36 million. Of the total, mobile leader Advanced Info Service (AIS) has 15 million users, Total Access Communication (DTAC) 13 million and True Move 8 million.
Titipong Khiewpaisal, AIS's senior vice-president for consumer marketing and sales, said the company is offering a variety of attractive discounts for smartphones bundled with free data tariff plans for customers interested in upgrading to 3G.
AIS has 39 million total subscribers, 24 million of which still use 2G services.
"We plan to double our 3G customers to 30 million this year," said Mr Titipong.
To achieve the target, AIS is offering existing customers an iPhone 4S for 11,650 baht in exchange for the use of a mobile data package worth 670 baht for three months free of charge.
Customers switching from other networks to AIS by March will receive free unlimited 3G data usage for three months, with a maximum speed of 384 Kbps for prepaid users.
Postpaid customers will receive double the data usage capacity from what they purchase at a speed of 36 Gbps for 12 months.
Mr Titipong said AIS is also considering starting its own house brand handsets to expand its customer base.
"Intense competition is expected to push sales of smartphones in Thailand to 12-15 million units this year, up from 10 million last year," he said.
Pakorn Pannachet, senior vice-president for marketing at DTAC, said it expects to add 13 million 3G users this year, bringing its total to 26 million.
DTAC also plans to reduce its own house-brand entry smartphone price to below 2,000 baht this year to attract more users to use mobile internet.
DTAC is offering free internet use of 1 gigabyte for six months for new customers who purchase its smartphone.