Jan. 09--Major mobile operators are stocking up on new numbers in anticipation of increasingly fierce competition in the third-generation (3G) wireless broadband market this year.
After the launch of 3G commercial service in Thailand in mid-2013, the number of 3G subscribers totals 25 million out of 95.5 million mobile customers.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) recently awarded 9.9 million numbers to AWN Co, the 3G arm of Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS), despite the mobile leader asking for 15 million.
The new numbering will start with the prefixes 097 and 098, said NBTC deputy secretary Korkij Danchaivichit.
DTAC Network, a subsidiary of Total Access Communication (DTAC), wanted to acquire 10 million new numbers, while Real Future, the 3G arm of True Move, asked for 8 million.
Mr Korkij said the number of new numbers granted to operators is based on their remaining stock of numbers, subscription growth and marketing plans.
Titipong Khiewpaisal, AIS's senior vice-president for consumer marketing, said increasing demand for mobile data communications and the proliferation of smart devices will inspire even more intense competition in the market.
Operators are gearing up to introduce a variety of promotional tariff packages after rolling out 3G networks nationwide.
Mr Titipong said AIS aims to launch 3G service on the 2100-megahertz spectrum this year. AIS has 15 million 3G subscribers out of 37 million customers.
Pakorn Pannachet, the senior vice-president for marketing at second-ranked DTAC, agreed competition looks set to get even hotter with the introduction of more affordable tariff packages bundled with low-cost smartphones.
Overall promotional packages for mobile voice service declined by 45% to 54 satang a minute thanks to greater competition, the NBTC reported.
Internet service charges reduced by 36% to 21 satang per megabyte, while SMSs were down by 46% to 84 satang a message and multimedia message services were down by 29% to 2.77 baht a message.