True casts wide net with Asean investment
Keen to capitalise on infrastructure edge
True Corporation has set an ambitious plan to become a leading digital platform provider in Asean in three years, as the telecom operator aims to capitalise on new infrastructure and value-added products on its existing telecom networks.
The company entered Indonesia and the Philippines through its TrueID entertainment platform this year and operates the e-wallet service TrueMoney in five Asean markets.
True, through venture capital arm True Incube, also spent US$15 million to acquire a major stake in British tech startup Crave Interactive, which develops hospitality technology. True further expanded with Internet of Things (IoT) services in China and Europe.
True chairman Suphachai Chearavanont said the investments are in line with the company's new strategy to cash in on innovation and the digital platform ecosystem.
"Today it is the time to build tech infrastructure and capitalise on it," Mr Suphachai said.
Tech infrastructure comprises hardware, such as IoT, and software, such as digital applications, he said, adding that such services can be provided through existing telecom networks.
Mr Suphachai said tech infrastructure requires innovation development. At the same time, a new business model is needed to help generate higher margins than those from old telecom services.
"Becoming a regional player and global player is the next mission of the group," Mr Suphachai said. "We [True] aim to become a digital platform provider in Asean in the next three years. The first step of our mission pertains to various digital services, including IoT, fintech, digital media and blockchain."
He said the company has yet to determine the budget figure for 5G wireless broadband development, as True first needs to gauge the 5G ecosystem and use cases in the country.
"The 5G infrastructure roll-out may be costly, but it is an unavoidable investment," he said.
True Move H Universal Communication (TUC) plans to be the first-mover on 5G adoption with the help of partner China Mobile, which is at the forefront of 5G development in Shanghai.
Mr Suphachai was speaking on Wednesday at the Togetherness of Possibilities 2019 tech conference held at True Digital Park. The event also drew Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta.
"True Digital Park will be a tech marketplace in the long run, serving innovation development in the country," Mr Suphachai said.
Members and tenants began moving into the park in April.
More than 40,000 visitors and participants joined 200 events and activities organised at the park from March to August, Mr Suphachai said. The park's second-phase development is scheduled for early 2021.