October 21, 2013 00:00 By Sirivish Toomgum
The increasing availability of affordable smartphones and high-speed wireless networks offered on more spectra will make mobile broadband service accessible to all Thais, according to Ericsson Thailand's new president, Camilla Vautier.
She said that Ericsson Thailand would continue to work closely with its customers, which are private and state telecom operators, to offer their subscribers improved mobile broadband services.
Vautier’s appointment to head Ericsson Thailand took effect on October 1. She has more than 18 years’ experience in Ericsson, having held senior roles in sales and marketing management in several regions, including Europe and Asia. Before this appointment, she was the head of commercial management for Western and Central Europe.
She said Thailand had experienced significant growth in smartphone and tablet penetration, and this presented a wealth of opportunities for operators and users alike.
Ericsson ConsumerLab’s analysis suggests smartphone penetration in urban Thailand doubled, and tripled for tablets, in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period in 2012. In addition, more than one-quarter of urban Thai tablet users are watching television or other video content on these devices, while one in three smartphone users are using their video-streaming features.
"I am delighted to be in Thailand at such an exciting time of mobile-broadband growth," Vautier said.
She said that the key drivers of such mobile-broadband growth would be the increasing availability of affordable smartphones and of affordable wireless broadband networks using both high-speed packet access (HSPA) and long-term evolution (LTE) technology.
A recent "Ericsson Mobility Report" shows that mobile data traffic doubled globally between the first quarter of last year and the same three-month period this year, and is expected to grow 12-fold between 2012 and 2018, driven mainly by video. Thailand will soon face a similar situation.
LTE technology gives a superior user experience when it comes to stability, throughput and latency. The increased capacity will bring new and better services to users. For operators, LTE also offers low long-term capital and
operational costs. The other key driver of the growth in mobile broadband service will be the additional spectra to assure affordable services for all.
"With such enormous data growth, we can say that without additional spectra, operators may face challenges in planning, expanding and managing their networks to ensure affordable mobile broadband services to Thai society, especially in the dense areas with heavy mobile-broadband usage," Vautier said.
Many operators in developed markets of information and communications technology markets have multiple frequency bands, allowing them to build and operate a cost-efficient network infrastructure to assure the affordable mobile broadband services for all as well. The Ericsson Mobility Report also shows that network performance is the principal driver of loyalty to mobile operators, followed by value for money. The report shows that addressing network performance has twice the impact on customer loyalty compared with measures such as improving customer support.
Vautier said all of the above drivers would make mobile broadband service affordable for all Thais.
Since Ericsson is present in markets with huge data uptake such as Japan and the United States, it can also leverage the knowledge and experience from these markets and apply them here in Thailand, she said.
In August, Real Future, a subsidiary of True Corp, chose Ericsson as a key supplier to expand its third- and fourth-generation coverage in Thailand.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) last December awarded 2.1-gigahertz spectrum licences to three winners of its auction. They are Real Future, Advanced Wireless Network of Advanced Info Service, and DTAC TriNet of Total Access Communication. Since then, all three have invested heavily in expanding the 3G network across the country.
At the present, Real Future is the only NBTC licence holder offering both 3G and 4G wireless broadband services on this 2.1GHz spectrum.
The NBTC intends to auction the 1,800-megahertz spectrum next September.
This spectrum can be used to provide the 4G service.
Talking about the overview of 3G and 4G markets in Southeast Asia, Vautier said consumers would continue to be the driving force of the uptake of smartphones and mobile broadband service.
Most mobile-broadband devices are, and will continue to be, smartphones.
The growth of 3G and 4G is primarily driven by smartphones ranging in price from about US$100 to $200 (Bt3,100-Bt6,200). Also an increase in local smartphone brands in countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand has resulted in a growing market share of those in the $50-$100 range.