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Thailand’s ‘Tough’ Mobile Price War to Moderate, Telenor’s Unit Says

Suttinee Yuvejwattana
Thailand’s ‘Tough’ Mobile Price War to Moderate, Telenor’s Unit Says

(Bloomberg) -- Telenor ASA-backed mobile carrier Total Access Communication Pcl said it expects years of fierce price-cutting in Thailand to moderate as carriers turn from a focus on market share to profit ahead of huge investments to build fifth-generation networks.

The competitive environment “will still be tough, but I hope it will be more rational,” Chief Executive Officer Alexandra Reich said in an interview in Bangkok Friday. The carrier’s revenue has declined for 14 consecutive quarters amid the fight for market share.

While trying to lure users with lower prices, Total Access and bigger competitor Advanced Info Service Pcl have in the past few months acquired spectrum amid rising demand for data transmission. Ahead of the country’s planned sales of spectrum for 5G this year, Reich said Total Access isn’t ready to commit to participating.

“We don’t believe it makes sense to rush into any auction this year,” Reich said. “All of us need a clear spectrum plan to understand what is coming.”

Total Access was in a long-running tussle with officials over spectrum rules and in October agreed to pay 38.1 billion baht plus tax for a 15-year 900 megahertz license. In August, Total Access Communication won a single 1,800 megahertz permit for 12.5 billion baht.

When it comes to building a 5G network, Reich said the company continues to work with Huawei Technologies Co., the China-based equipment maker the U.S. and others have accused of espionage, intellectual property theft and sanctions busting.

“We see Huawei as a very strong partner for us,” she said. “Looking into 5G, they are really ahead of the others.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Suttinee Yuvejwattana in Bangkok at suttinee1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sunil Jagtiani at sjagtiani@bloomberg.net, Dave McCombs

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