AIS upbeat on 2021 revenue figures
Operator expects growth of up to 5%
SET-listed Advanced Info Service (AIS), Thailand's largest mobile operator by subscribers, expects its revenue will grow 2-5% this year if the pandemic is handled well and the situation improves by July.
Although mobile usage is vital for people's daily lives, AIS expressed concerns about the prospect of a prolonged pandemic that could drive down people's purchasing power, stymied by the economic woes.
The company also urged the government, private and public sectors to apply lessons learned from the previous waves to their approaches in coping with this difficult time.
AIS chief executive Somchai Lertsutiwong said the company earlier forecast its service revenue would grow at single digits or a yearly increase of 2-5% this year.
The forecast is based on the assumption that no further massive outbreak happens from July, or the third wave is effectively controlled by June.
As mobile service is imperative for daily life and business, the sector is likely to be less impacted from the crisis than others, he said.
If there continues to be massive infections or new waves in the future, he said, all the sectors and the overall economy would falter as purchasing power dries up.
"Normally, the telecom sector's yearly growth is slightly higher than the country's GDP. In 2020, GDP contracted 6.1% and the sector's revenue dropped 4%," he said.
Mr Somchai said he would like to invite all sectors to come together to make the country stronger.
Bigger organisations should be supporting smaller ones or small entrepreneurs, to give them the energy to continue, he said.
He suggested the government prepare enough doses of vaccines to ensure 70% of the population is vaccinated in line with the guidance issued by the World Health Organization.
Affected people, he said, should get proper assistance.
Such assistance should not only focus on handouts or subsidies but a clear measure that would support small and medium-sized enterprises' (SMEs) recovery.
People should also heed lessons learned from the previous rounds of the outbreak and upskill, he said.
Mr Somchai said AIS has set aside 50 million baht to have its over 10,000 staff vaccinated to protect them from being infected and prevent the spread of the virus.
AIS is also committed to helping the public in the fight against the pandemic.
First, the firm is installing 5G, 4G and free WiFi networks over 31 field hospitals totalling over 10,000 beds nationwide, which would support medical personnel.
Second, AIS is working with the Me-More app for telemedicine technology.
Third, the company is working with the Chulabhorn Royal Academy and affiliated hospitals to support artificial intelligence technology for lung CT scans in order to analyse infected people.
AIS has installed 5G, 4G and free WiFi networks in 31 field hospitals to assist in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.