dtac, Telenor Group's mobile operator in Thailand, plans to launch a nationwide Wi-Fi to capture the growth in demand for mobile broadband services in Thailand.
After six months of preparation, dtac launched its first Wi-Fi service on a trial basis this month at 27 big department stores in Bangkok. dtac plans to expand its Wi-Fi network to cover 100 major malls nationwide by the third quarter of this year, with the capacity to accommodate one million users.
Commercial launch in March
The trial is to promote usage among its existing mobile internet customers. Walking into any of the 27 stores today, dtac customers can enjoy free high-speed Wi-Fi service through their mobile devices, according to Ketchayong Skowratananont, the chief executive of dtac Broadband Co, dtac’s wholly owned subsidiary.
So far over 20,000 customers have already tried our service and we expect to welcome more on board when we launch it commercially. Our target for this year is 300.000.
Ketchayong, CEO of dtac Broadband
A commercial Wi-Fi service is scheduled to start on 1 March in Bangkok.
Starts with the malls
When asked why the service is only available in shopping malls, Ketchayong says:
“Like a lot of urban dwellers in Thailand, the most popular hang-out place for mobile broadband users is shopping malls where they can meet, shop, dine and also enjoy surfing the Internet, being over smart phones, tablets or notebooks. So instead of blanketing the whole cities with a lot of hotspots, we decided to focus on providing the service where most of our target customers are.”
High quality at affordable price
Unlike other operators, dtac chose not to over claim its Wi-Fi speed, but rather lets its customers try the service by themselves.
“Our study confirms that Wi-Fi speed and quality currently provided by our competitors are far below their promise. We will not go down that route. Rather, we will compete with a better service and let the customers decide,” says Ketchayong.
What dtac uses as its key differentiators are faster speed and value-for-money offerings.
“Faster and more reliable”
“We are confident that we can satisfy customers with faster and more reliable speed, where we have it. Once the customers are happy, they will tell their friends and that’s when we hope the âwords-of-mouth’ mechanism will start to kick in,” Ketchayong says.
The company plans to introduce economical packages for its Wi-Fi services, with the charge ranging from merely 20 baht (approx NOK 4) per hour to 99 baht (approx NOK 20) per month for unlimited access.
Goal 300.000 users
“When our service is commercially available, we want to make sure that we have the unbeatable speed and the most value-for-money offering in the market,” Ketchayong adds.
dtac expects to get 300,000 Wi-Fi users by end of this year. “Our initial target is our own existing customers. Later on, with our clear differentiations both in terms of quality and price, we hope to win over some customers from our competitors,” he says.
dtac currently has 6 million data users, out of a total 23.2 million subscribers.
Mobile broadband users to skyrocket
The rapid growth of smart phones and tablet users in Thailand has also been one of the main factors encouraging dtac to provide Wi-Fi, on top of its existing 3G services.
According to global research firm Frost & Sullivan, the number of mobile high-speed broadband users in Thailand will account for half of total mobile users, or reaching 35 million, by 2015 as smartphones and tablets proliferate and the 3G network expands.
Growing sales of smart phones and tablets
Local sales of smart phones and tablets will also likely exceed personal computer sales for the first time this year. Last year, Smart phone sales totaled 9 million units while sales of tablets reached 600,000.
“We see growth potentials here and we are ready to take a fair share in the market. The other main objective is to offload traffic from our 3G network especially in the densely populated locations. This is to make sure that our customers get good connectivity at all times,” Ketchayong says.