AIS earmarks Bt70 bn for 3G over 3 years
Advanced Info Service plans to spend about Bt70 billion over three years on the nationwide deployment of its 2.1-gigahertz broadband cellular network and the maintenance of its old cellular networks.
About 90 per cent of the budget will be for the 2.1GHz roll-out and the rest for its 900-megahertz and 1,800MHz networks, AIS said in a filing to the Stock Exchange of Thailand yesterday.
AIS subsidiary Advanced Wireless Network (AWN) is one of three holders of a 2.1GHz spectrum licence to operate third-generation cellular. AWN and DTAC Network of Total Access Communication and Real Future of True Corp are expected to launch the service next quarter.
AIS has operated a 2G-900MHz cellular service on a concession from TOT, which expires in March 2015. Another subsidiary, Digital Phone Co, has operated a similar service on its 1,800MHz concession from CAT Telecom that ends this September.
AIS aims to cover 97 per cent of the population in three years instead of four years as required by the conditions of the 3G-2.1GHz licence, which was granted to AWN in December. The 2.1GHz network will reach all provinces in the first year. By 2015, it intends to have about 20,000 cell sites for the 2.1GHz network with coverage equivalent to the 900MHz network.
AIS targets mobile-service revenue growth of 6-8 per cent this year, driven mainly by mobile data, while voice tends to increase slowly. Non-voice revenue from mobile data, messaging, contents and other value-added services is projected to grow 25-30 per cent in 2013.
AIS has 35.7 million subscribers. Last year, its non-voice revenue soared 33 per cent to Bt26.2 billion while its normalised net income, excluding the special items in 2011, increased 31 per cent to Bt34.88 billion.
AIS's board of directors yesterday declared an annual dividend of Bt10.90 per share payable on April 23. The company has already paid out an interim dividend of Bt5.90 per share, so the final dividend would be Bt5 per share, subject to shareholder approval.