WSP diversifies as MVNO business sees the sunset
The WhiteSpace (WSP), a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) under the Penguin brand, is shifting its business to a partnership in an enterprise private network, used car sales and debt collection services in order to ensure long-term revenue streams.
Chaiyod Chirabowornkul, chairman of WSP, said the MVNO business is coming to an end under the current business ecosystem as it only has 40,000 subscribers.
A MVNO is a mobile operator that does not own a cellular network, instead renting one from telecom operators to provide services.
WSP, which launched the Penguin brand in 2016, is only the MVNO in the Thai market.
Chaiyod: Too early to tell new focus
The firm rents 2100-megahertz network capacity from TOT and 850MHz network capacity from CAT Telecom.
The contracts are still valid, though some conditions were adjusted after TOT and CAT Telecom merged into National Telecom (NT) in January 2021. The contracts are due to expire in 2025.
Penguin had more than 1 million subscribers in 2018, but the number has fallen to 40,000 now.
The present business ecosystem does not accommodate the growth of MVNOs, which face fierce competition in the mobile market, especially after the rollout of 5G services in 2021 and the impact of the pandemic, said Mr Chaiyod.
MVNOs usually have less bargaining power to negotiate with major operators to rent cellular network capacity to provide mobile services, he said.
"The MVNO business is coming to an end with no prospect of seeing newcomers in the market," said Mr Chaiyod.
WSP is diversifying its business portfolio to ensure its long-term growth.
The company entered into an agreement with NT and Taiwan-based Chunghwa Telecom to provide a 5G enterprise private network through the 26-gigahertz spectrum range and 700MHz range held by NT.
Under the deal, WSP serves as a local provider through marketing and operations.
He said the 5G enterprise private network will complement the firm's revenue stream in terms of fees and shared revenue, especially after the cellular network rental agreement with NT expires in three years.
The company will also work with partners to provide Internet of Things solutions and digital platforms for enterprise, including GPS tracking systems, said Mr Chaiyod.
WSP also made a foray into the used car sales business and started debt collection services in a trial stage.
"It is still too early to say which business will be our core focus in the long run," he said.
"In the next few years, mobile and enterprise private network businesses will still be prioritised."