AIS is the market leader in Thailand, where penetration looks to have finished Q1 09 at around 95%. The rise in penetration has been accompanied by a decline in growth, with annual growth rates falling in each quarter since Q2 07. Although the full Q1 09 set of results for Thailand is not yet complete, it seems almost certain to be the slowest quarter since Q3 05, when there were net additions of just 0.41m. Both True Move and DTAC saw their lowest gains since that same quarter, with uplifts of 0.25m and 0.26m respectively. AIS only just managed to top these figures with a gain of 0.27m, its lowest result since Q1 06 and the second lowest this century.
Although this is a disappointing result for AIS, the fact that growth has slowed so dramatically for all the major operators in Thailand means that it is unlikely to lose its lead in the foreseeable future, barring any extraordinary developments: at the end of Q1 09, it was 8.6m customers ahead of DTAC with a total of 27.58m. Annual growth stood at 9.9%, down from 19.0% for the prior twelve month period. In real terms, annual net additions fell from just below 4m to 2.49m.
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Quarterly Net Additions
AIS’s customer base is dominated by prepaid, which accounted for 90.3% or 24.92m of the total at the end of Q1 09. However, it saw a decline in annual growth from 23.3% to 9.5%, and net additions almost halved from 4.30m to 2.16m. By contrast, the contract segment has seen an improvement in growth compared to the prior twelve months: a loss of 0.30m customers was replaced by a gain of 0.34m, which translates to proportionate growth of 14.6% (compared to -11.5%).
Both contract and prepaid ARPU were down year on year, but prepaid fell further, a 15.6% decline taking the Q1 09 figure to THB195, only just above Q4 08’s all-time low of THB193. Contract ARPU did hit a new low of THB 677, although annually it fell by just 10.4%. Blended ARPU was down 13.9% to THB 241, equal to the historic low of Q4 08. These declines were reflected in the financial figures, with a 5.6% drop in total voice revenue to THB15.4bn, and a 4.1% decline in service revenue to THB20.5bn. EBITDA also fell by 5.0% to THB11.7bn as a result.
Source: Cellular News.