AIS retains chief executive for another year
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AIS retains chief executive for another year

Company facing a myriad of challenges

TECH
AIS retains chief executive for another year
Mr Somchai said AIS is focusing on transforming the firm into a cognitive telco by 2024.

The board of Advanced Info Service (AIS) Plc has decided to retain chief executive Somchai Lertsutiwong at the mobile operator for another year.

He was previously due to retire at the end of 2022.

The resolution passed at a board meeting on Jan 26, a few days after Sarath Ratanavadi, vice-chairman of the company's board, signalled that Mr Somchai would continue in the position.

The move comes as AIS faces a myriad of business challenges, including its push to become a cognitive telco, or a smart telecom organisation, by 2024, and the prospect of a stronger competitor that will be formed through the merger of its rivals True Corporation and Total Access Communication (DTAC).

Mr Somchai told the Bangkok Post that AIS is focusing on transforming the firm into a cognitive telco by 2024. The AIS board approved the plan to pursue such a journey in 2021.

The cognitive telecom firm is expected to emphasise three goals: boosting productivity and providing the greatest benefit to customers; continuing to drive business growth with home internet and corporate customers; and investing in digital business for strong future growth.

On top of the strategies, AIS aims to generate sustainable growth in the future as a cognitive telco requires additional service offerings and further development through past experience, he said.

He said 2022 was only the first phase of the transformation.

L3 AUTONOMOUS NETWORK

Mr Somchai said that this year AIS will focus on enhancing IT intelligence and implementing autonomous network (AN) in the L3 version.

To provide real-time, interactive, and personalised services and network operations, AIS proposed the digital strategy to bring each user a premium and distinctive experience, he said, adding that AN will provide an indispensable foundation for this journey.

The AN concept was proposed by the TM Forum, the industry association driving digital business transformation of the communications industry through collaboration, together with some telecom providers and vendors.

The TM Forum recently released the Autonomous Networks Industry White Paper 4.0, which involved more than 50 contributors (over 20 operators) worldwide, and as one of the major contributors, AIS is contributing to the development of the autonomous network industry, Mr Somchai noted.

AIS would refer to the industry standards released by organisations such as TM Forum and 3GPP to innovate and explore key technologies, with a focus on intent-driven, autonomous networks level (ANL) evaluation, closed-loop control, and autonomous domains, Mr Somchai said.

Based on TM Forum's AN level evaluation methodology, AIS has carried out a comprehensive evaluation of ANLs and business values of AN across the wireless network, transmission network, core network, and service domains.

STRUCTURAL CHANGE

An industry source who requested anonymity said the organisational structures of AIS and its parent InTouch Holdings have significantly changed over the past few years after SET-listed Gulf Energy Development became the biggest shareholder of InTouch.

The source said the telecom business is unique and one of the most complicated sectors, including concession deals seen in the past. The industry's players still need to have a close relationship with various groups, including the government, politicians and the military, said the source.

CHALLENGES AHEAD

AIS's decision to keep Mr Somchai in the leadership role came as the company copes with crucial tasks and challenges.

One of the key challenges is the planned merger of its rivals True and DTAC.

The plan, which was announced in 2021, has passed consideration by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission. True and DTAC are scheduled to hold a joint shareholder meeting on Feb 23 to approve the new corporate structure and other details, including the name of the merged firm.

AIS is also in the process of acquiring fixed broadband provider Triple T Broadband and Jasmine Broadband Internet Infrastructure Fund for 32.4 billion baht in a bid to drive growth in the broadband internet frontier and add business value.

AIS is expected to become the second-biggest fixed broadband operator with a 34% market share, trailing only True with a 39% market share.

Additionally, the country's biggest mobile operator by subscriber base is also working with Krungthai Bank Plc to explore business opportunities in the virtual bank frontier.

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