April 17, 2014 00:00 By USANEE MONGKOLPORN
ADVANCED Info Service has set aside a marketing budget of about Bt5 billion for this year - up sharply from around Bt3 billion last year - with most of the sum to be spent on customer-retention campaigns, said the company's newly appointed executive vice
Prior to taking up his new position, he was AIS senior vice president for digital service.
Pratthana, 40, said that as the overall penetration rate for Thailand’s mobile-phone service subscriptions had already reached 140 per cent, the company was now focused heavily on maintaining existing subscribers and encouraging them to sign up for the monthly post-paid 3G service of its subsidiary, Advanced Wireless Network.
AWN currently has some 19 million subscribers.
AIS splits its annual marketing budget into spending on three areas: advertising; sales channel and distribution; and customer privilege programmes. Of its Bt3-billion budget last year, around Bt1 billion was spent on each of these areas.
Pratthana said his goal this year was to regain consumers’ perception that AIS is the country’s No 1 operator in terms of wireless broadband service.
The company having speedily expanded its 3G-2.1GHz network coverage nationwide, he claims that AIS now has the largest 2.1GHz network coverage in Bangkok – and that it will have the largest coverage in the provinces within the second or third quarters of this year.
AWN’s two rivals are Total Access Communication’s DTAC TriNet, and Real Future, which is a unit of True Corp.
In February, the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee urged its supporters to boycott products and services from businesses affiliated with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
In response to this move, AIS’s parent, InTouch Holdings – formerly known as Shin Corp – insisted that it was no longer owned by the Shinawatra clan. The Shinawatra family, which founded Shin, divested their shares in the group several years ago.
Pratthana said AIS was in no way involved in politics, and that it was focused on providing the best and newest services to customers.
This year, AIS is focused on the retail experience for users by renovating 50 existing AIS shops and 450 Telewiz shops nationwide, in order to bring much more comprehensive services to customers, he added.
The company plans to expand the number of AIS shops to 100 within the next two years.
AIS is also keen to bid for a 1,800MHz licence to provide 4G wireless broadband service.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission is scheduled to hold the auction for the 1,800MHz spectrum this coming August, and another for the 900MHz spectrum in November.