Thaicom set to seal mobile lead in Laos

Thaicom set to seal mobile lead in Laos

Joint venture licence gets 25-year extension

Thaicom Plc's mobile operating unit in Laos has seen its licence extended for another 25 years, six years before the expiry of the original contract.

Thailand's sole satellite service provider expects the extension granted to its joint venture company, Lao Telecom, to cement its leadership in the mobile market in Laos. It has a 48% market share.

Lao Telecom, a 49:51 joint venture between Thaicom and the Lao government, is allowed to provide mobile service until 2046. The original licence is due to expire in 2021.

Suphajee Suthumpun, chief executive of Thaicom, said Lao Telecom is focusing more on providing fourth-generation (4G) wireless broadband service, targeting corporate customers and the younger generation.

Lao Telecom generated revenue of over 1 billion baht for Thaicom last year, 11% of the parent's total revenue. It has almost 2 million subscribers, said Mrs Suphajee.

Thaicom has invested 15 billion baht in the mobile operating unit in Lao since 1996.

She said Thaicom planned to spend 3 billion baht this year in preparation for Thaicom 8's launch on the 78.5 degrees east orbital slot next March.

Mrs Suphajee said Thaicom expected its revenue to continue growing by 5-7% this year, up from 10 billion baht last year, despite the sluggish economy thanks to exponential mobile internet growth.

Thaicom held an innovation day yesterday, promoting a digital life concept rather than a satellite service provider as in the past.

It is Asia's first satellite service provider to offer commercial in-flight connectivity services, with Nok Air its first customer and the first Asian airline to offer the free perk.

Satellite system integrated applications are expected to earn Thaicom high revenues in the future, Mrs Suphajee said. Last year 85% of Thaicom's revenue came from satellite service, with 15% from integrated application service, which is expected to rise to 20% this year.

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