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One of Thailand’s biggest telecom companies, Dtac, has reported a record 90% slump in net profit for the second quarter of the year, reports Retail News Asia.

Net profit for the quarter fell to $4 million (141 million baht). The company’s total subscriber base shrank by 524,000 to 25 million, with prepaid subscribers falling by 715,000.

However, postpaid net additions increased by 77%.

In its quarterly report, Dtac blamed the weak performance on competitors’ aggressive subscriber acquisition activities, especially through strong distribution channels.

In response to the decline, Dtac has re-introduced prepaid handset subsidies and launched new Dtac prepaid branded SIMs, targeting data-orientated users.

Dtac’s 4G user base meanwhile increased from 2.9 million in Q1 to 3.5 million in Q2, and the operator aims to grow this to 6 million by the end of the year.

Dtac warned it expects intense market competition to continue into the second half. As a result, the company expects service revenues to slightly decline from the previous year.

A version of this appeared in Retail News Asia on July 14. Read the full version here.

According to market research firm Gfk, mobile devices have become consumers’ primary gateway to the internet across Asia Pacific, reports Digital News Asia.

Accessing the internet via smartphone has become a daily activity for 83% of online users in the region, led by China (93%), followed by Thailand (89%), Indonesia (88%), Singapore (87%) and Vietnam (81%) – Gfk Report

In a report titled ‘ The Connected Asian Consumer’, Gfk ran a study in May this year with over 8,000 smartphone owners across eight Asia Pacific markets. The survey covered China, Japan, India, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

A Reliance On Messaging Apps

Messaging apps are becoming remote controls for day-to-day living, used more than any app across most Asian countries.

Indonesia, India and Singapore are leaders in messaging apps use. Over 80% of users in these countries say they use it at least once a week.

A higher proportion of connected consumers actually text more than they talk on smartphone. Only in China where approximately 60% prefer to talk as much as they text. It’s no wonder popular messaging app, Line, is currently debuting on the New York Stock Exchange at $9.5 billion under LN. It is shaping up to be this year’s largest technology IPO.

Social Media Use

Social media was initially used as means for social networking. However that model has evolved into being utilized by brands and businesses to engage potential and loyal customers, social media is now a key tool in driving the business agenda.

86% of Indonesians and 81% of Thais use social media on a weekly basis.

Social media use for ecommerce is also gaining significant traction. Consumers in Singapore and Indonesia report fairly high usage of social media for ecommerce, with 37% and 35% of users doing so weekly.

In bigger mobile markets such as India and China, online shopping is on the way to disrupt offline retail. Mobile payment is another area likely to encourage growth of online shopping.

A significant percentage of connected consumers in India (72%) and Indonesia (60%) agree that using the phone to transact money is easier than sending cash, as online payment has become very secure.

This report confirms the consumer purchase journey is no longer linear, as consumers are shopping in various of ways. Brands need to be available at every touch point, integrating online and offline experiences in order to cater to the multi-channel consumer.

A  version of this appeared in Digital News Asia on July 14. Read the full version here.

Smart Communications Inc., the wireless subsidiary of PLDT Inc. is spending $21 million (P1 billion) to expand the coverage of the country’s WiFi service reports The Philippines Star.

The project aims to expand WiFi coverage for transport hubs, government offices as well as business establishments in the country during this year. Smart Communications Inc. has stated that the $21 million budget allocated for WiFi expansion is a part of the $910 million capital expenditures set for this year.

Smart is currently working on the upgrade of the public WiFi hotspots in the four terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City, as well as other airports in high traffic areas. This expansion will surely benefit passengers and travelers who initially had low exposure to internet connectivity at airports.

Apart from airports, Smart WiFi is also being made available to passengers waiting at the terminals of big bus companies such as Five Star Bus, Jam Liner and Victory Liner.

Smart is also penetrating public areas such as city halls, malls and coffee shops to ensure that the city becomes more enhanced in internet connectivity.

This year, Smart has aggressively broadened the company’s WiFi footprint through partnerships with government institutions and business establishments, as they all have the same goal of improving internet coverage nationwide.

The company’s WiFi rollout is also in line with their aim to help boost SMEs operations in the country.

Through Smart’s Wi-Fi service, users could enjoy free connectivity for an initial number of minutes. For continued usage, they can purchase credits from Smart, similar to how one would top up a phone with credit. Smart’s WiFi service is supported by PLDT’s fixed networks, and the company plans to implement a three year network expansion program to better connect the country at a high speed rate.

A version of this appeared in The Philippine Star on July 11. Read the full version here.

4G launches in Burma

Burma’s increased demand for mobile data is facilitating competition among telcos. Source: globalizationinburma.weebly.com

Competition among telecom players in Burma is heating up as two foreign players launched 4G services to match the increasing data demand in the developing country, reports The Nation.

Telenor Myanmar launched a 4G service in Nay Pyi Taw two months after Ooredoo Myanmar launched their 4G service in the capital city along with Yangon and Madalay.

According to the Ericsson Mobility Report 2016, only 5% of mobile subscriptions in Southeast Asia were 4G, but the figure is set to increase to more than 40% by 2021.

There is now an increasing demand for faster networks in the country, with plans to introduce other 4G services with high voice definition in the future.

“To provide high speed 4G services all over the country, Telenor will need more spectrum. Telenor is looking forward to participating in the spectrum auctions planned by the Union Government later this year. Due to explosive growth of data and increasing data demand by the Myanmar people we believe it is urgently required to expand our services to 4G all over Myanmar.” Petter Furberg, the outgoing chief executive officer of Telenor Myanmar.

Telenor claims to be Myanmar’s largest network with more than 5,700 towers and 16 million customers. Over 60% of its customers are data users.

Its competitor, Ooredoo, states that its penetration rate is at 85%, with a goal to be the best data network in the country. It has extended its fibre optic network to 7,700 km with plans for more expansion by the end of this year. Ooredoo has already invested $1.7 billion to develop 4G in Myanmar.

The company promises to keep 4G price the same as with 3G and customers can enjoy free calls and use Facebook at the price of $0.003 (3 kyats) per megabyte.

As more civilians become tech-savvy, it becomes necessary for broadband networks to be faster in Myanmar. This makes Burma a golden opportunity for more telecom companies, local and foreign, to emerge in the market.

A version of this appeared in The Nation on July 11. Read the full version here.