AIS vows to expand 4G network range if 5G-compliant
Advanced Info Service, the country's largest mobile provider, says AIS is committed to expanding 4G network capacity as its core investment over the next two years, but newly acquired equipment must be compatible with 5G technology.
Nattiya Poapongsakorn, head of investment relations and compliance at AIS, said the company expects 4G service demand to continue growing over the next few years.
The company has expressed interest in taking part in the bidding at the 5G spectrum auction on Feb 16 next year.
Ms Nattiya said AIS has yet to hammer out the budget plan for investment in the 5G network.
"Management is studying an investment budget for 2020," she said.
Ms Nattiya said 5G investment not only involves spectrum cost, but also many related elements like the 5G ecosystem, use case development, potential rivals and industry newcomers.
"The company has to invest in 5G network capacity and must closely monitor ecosystem development and use case deployment, as well as return on investment," she said.
A total investment of 20-25 billion baht is expected by AIS throughout this year, 80% of which is set aside for 4G network capacity expansion and the rest for fibre broadband service through the fixed-broadband internet service AIS Fibre, Ms Nattiya said.
She said AIS has a healthy financial status that will enable investment in digital infrastructure while maintaining the lead position in the market.
As of September, the company had cash flow of 62 million baht with a ratio of net debt to earnings before interest, tax and amortisation of 1.0. This financial position will help the company seek more funds for investment, Ms Nattiya said.
On Thursday, AIS reported a net profit of 24 billion baht in the first nine months of this year, up 5.1% year-on-year. Core service revenue stood at 104 billion baht, a year-on-year jump of 5.2%.
AIS subscribers in mobile business totalled 41.6 million users.
Broadband internet service AIS Fibre booked 937 household subscribers, and new subscribers in the third quarter increased at the highest level of the past 11 quarters.
Chief executive Somchai Lertsutiwong said AIS continues to focus on innovation development and preparation for 5G and is closely monitoring development of use cases both locally and globally.
In the first nine months, the company's total revenue was 134 billion baht, up 6.9% year-on-year.
"AIS continuously invests in R&D of 5G use cases to explore new revenue opportunities," Mr Somchai said.
For the third quarter, AIS reported 8.6 billion baht in net profit, up 28% year-on-year and 12% quarter-to-quarter.
"This trend has continued for five consecutive quarters," Mr Somchai said.