Line Mobile to arrive via DTAC network
NBTC to see whether service is an MVNO
After a successful launch in Japan last year, popular messaging app Line will jump on Thailand's mobile service bandwagon.
Thailand will become the second country where Line will introduce its digital mobile service, called Line Mobile, featuring a low-cost SIM card package through which subscribers can use Line's free services of messaging, calls and video chat.
The Line messaging service is already free, but users must pay their phone carrier for data network consumption.
Line Mobile currently provides a beta version of the service to a small group of users.
The company is renting DTAC's TriNet network of high speed 4G and 3G. The service is one of several mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in Thailand providing cheaper monthly smartphone services than major carriers, Advanced Info Service (AIS), Total Access Communication (DTAC) and True Move.
The service aims to close pain points that mobile service users face today, according to the company.
Users can change or cancel the data plan whenever they like. They can toggle between lightning speed data that comes with the package and unlimited free data at 256Kbps.
Users can manage various details through the app: bill payments, data speed adjustments, or change the plan.
The chat and call centre, through the website or mobile app, provide 24/7 support. Users can purchase price plans and complete the registration process at th.linemobile.com.
SIM packages can be purchased after downloading the Line Mobile application, and it will be delivered to their chosen address. Users only need to provide a photo of their ID and take a selfie with the ID card to identify themselves.
Users can control their accounts with 24/7 self-service through the Line Mobile website and Line Mobile application, available on both iOS and Android.
Users can also select the number and once they get the number they want, they can select data packages.
A source at DTAC, who chooses to be unnamed, said the service benefits both Line and DTAC.
"Line is a recognised brand in Thailand, and to have Line on our network also allows us to be better known by consumers," he said.
Line Mobile services count as both competition and a complementary product for DTAC.
According to AIS's vice-president for wireless marketing, Pratthana Leelapanang, MVNO services have been available for a long time and success depends on how the providers package the product and services offered.
"Line Mobile service is good for the industry because it will drive the usage of data service and provide choices to consumers," he said, noting that competition in data service is already severe.
Regarding Line Mobile allowing users to subscribe and register online, he noted that approval from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Committee (NBTC) should be sought, because the identification verification as it stands cannot be done online.
The average Thai consumed 3GB per month in 2017 while heavy consumers users who enjoy video use around 5-10GB.
The package offered by Line Mobile might be attractive for users who consume small volumes of data, as it costs 99 baht per 1.5GB.
Previously, a service branded Facebook Zero offered by some operators did not gain attention as Thais are used to accessing the internet with SIM cards, which offers them faster data speeds and better service quality.
In the prepaid market, there are 10-12 sub-segments and packages offered with free chat, free Facebook and bundled with YouTube.
Col Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the NBTC's telecom committee, said the regulator will investigate Line Mobile to figure out whether it is an MVNO or not.