Internet broadband market expected to grow by 15%
Thailand's fixed-line broadband internet market can expect to grow by 15% in 2017, driven by increasing demand for higher speeds due to users' greater adoption of data-consuming applications and feature-rich devices.
Home broadband operators are significantly investing in building and improving their fixed-based networks to increase their internet connection speeds for a nominal cost to maintain market share, said Suphakit Vuntanadit, deputy group chief commercial officer of True Corporation, the parent firm of True Online.
Mr Suphakit said in 2016 there were 6.9 million fixed broadband households in Thailand by the end of September that year, an increase of 12% year-on-year.
"But the local fixed broadband market is expected to see at least a 15% increase this year, exceeding the previous year's rate of growth, thanks to greater user demand for high-speed home broadband service," he said.
True Online expects to maintain its annual subscription growth rate of 15% this year to retain its leading position in the market, said Mr Suphakit.
Thailand has 22 million households, but only 6.9 million have home broadband service.
As of September last year, True Online had 2.7 million household subscriptions for its service, or a 38% market share.
"We expect to have 3.1 million household subscriptions by September this year, helped by our bundle offerings (fixed, mobile and cable TV)," said Mr Suphakit.
The company yesterday introduced a series of tariff packages for its home broadband service. Customers will be upgraded from 20 to 30Mbps for the same price of 599 baht per month.
Customers paying 799 baht a month for 30Mbps will further see an upgrade to 50 Mbps.
True Online spent a combined 33 billion baht on broadband network expansion nationwide during 2014-16, with the company's network covering 10 million households at present.
Mr Suphakit shrugged off the entry by mobile leader Advanced Info Service (AIS), saying True Online has already established a strong foothold in the market that could enable it to retain its leadership position over the next three years.
But Saran Phaloprakarn, senior vice-president for fixed broadband business at AIS, said its fibre-optic broadband internet service has already driven the three major fixed broadband operators out of their comfort zones, as they had previously enjoyed 30-33% market share each.
AIS had 300,000 subscribers at the end of 2016, representing 4% market share, up from 45,000 users in 2015.
AIS expects to have 700,000 subscribers in 2017, or around 10% of the market, said Mr Saran.