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Communications in Thailand

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Title: Communications in Thailand  
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Subject: Media of Thailand, Censorship in Thailand
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Communications in Thailand

Telecommunications in Thailand are based on an extensive network of telephone lines covering the country. TOT Public Company Limited and True Corporation operate the majority of the telephone network in the Bangkok metropolitan area while TOT Public Company Limited and TT&T Public Company Limited operate the telephone network in other provinces. After the 2006 Thailand coup d'état in September 2006, Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont announced plans to merge TOT with CAT Telecom in order to operate a 'Telecom Pool' where providers rent the ability to be able to operate rather than receiving a concession with hopes that the new system will create a more competitive environment driving growth in the sector. After the General Election in 2008, successive government abandoned the telecom pool projects and continued liberalization process which had been undergone since 2000.

During recent years, mobile cellular telephone ownership has grown at a much faster rate than landline ownership. This was partly driven by the mobile communications price wars in 2004-2005 which pushed prices down to as low as 0.25 Baht/minute.[1] There are approximately five times as many mobile cellular telephones than landlines in use. On current data, slightly over half of the Thai population owns a mobile cellular telephone, with more numbers allocated than number of population.

There are several newspapers in mass circulation in Thailand with Thai Rath being the most popular. Of the several newspapers in mass circulation, three are English. Printed media in Thailand is subject to much less government control in contrast to the television where all free-to-air channels except one are government owned and run. This may change in the future as the new 2007 Constitution of Thailand will have a section guaranteeing free-to-air channels independent of the government.


  • Fixed Line Subscribers: 6,2 million (2Q 2013)
  • Fixed Line Operators: TOT, True Corporation and TT&T
  • Mobile Subscribers: 89,984,861 (2Q 2013)
  • Mobile Market Concentration: 3,185 HHI Herfindahl-Hirschman Index[2]

Mobile Network Operators and Mobile Virtual Network Operators

As of June 2013, the penetration rate in Thailand was 131.84% over a population estimate of around 67.373 million.[3]

Rank Operator Technology Subscribers
(in millions)
Concessions expire in 16-sep-2015
GSM 1800
Concessions expire in 16-sep-2013
37.7[4] (Q1 2013) INTOUCH Company (42.60%)
Singapore Telecommunications (21.31%)
2 DTAC / DTAC Trinet GSM 1800 (GPRS, EDGE+)
Concessions expire in 16-sep-2018
27.2[5] (Q1 2013) Telenor (42.61%)
Thai Telco Holdings (22.41%)
3 Truemove / Truemove-H GSM 1800 (GPRS, EDGE)
Concession expired in 16-sep-2013, but was extended by 1 year[6]
850  MHz UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+, DC-HSPA+ MVNO (using MY)
Truemove 18.2[7]
Truemove-H 3.9 (Q2 2013)
True Corporation
4 WEPCT 1900 MHz PHS Not Yet Available True Corporation
5 TOT3G 2100 MHz UMTS HSPA, HSPA+, DC-HSPA+, LTE 0.18[8] (Q3 2010)
including MVNOs
Telephone Organization of Thailand (TOT)
6 MY 850 MHz UMTS HSPA, HSPA+, DC-HSPA+ Not Yet Available CAT Telecom
Mobile Virtual Network Operators
1 TRUE MOVE H MVNO (using MY Cat Telecom) 3.9 (Q3 2012)[7] True Corporation
2 i-mobile Plus MVNO (using TOT3G) 0.12[8] (Q4 2010) Samart Corporation
3 365 3G MVNO (using TOT3G) 10,000 (thousands) (Q1 2013)[9] 365 Communications. All service migrated to TOT3G As of 10 October 2013[10]
4 IEC3G MVNO (using TOT3G) 7,500 (thousands) As of September 2013[11] International Engineering Public Company Limited
5 mojo3G MVNO (using TOT3G) Not Yet Available Mojo Mobile Co., Ltd.
6 i-kool Real 3G MVNO (using TOT3G) Not Yet Available 51% Loxley PCL – 49% Tune Talk Holding

Major Voice over IP (VoIP) Operators:

  • CAT2Call (CAT Telecom)
  • TrueNetTalk (True Corporation)
  • Mouthmun (Jasmine Internet)
  • DeeCall (SawasdeeSHOP)

In September 2010, NTC arranged 3.9G licenses auction (IMT 2100). But CAT Telecom sued the NTC in the Administrative Court, claimed that NTC does not have authority to hold the auction. Following a petition filed by the government's wholly owned companies, the High Administrative Court issued an injunction order on September 23, 2010, to stop 3G auction resulting in near guarantee of domination of the incumbent to exploit 2G services. Only government owned operators (i.e. TOT and CAT) are allowed to roll out 3G.

The suspension order issued by the Administrative Court paved way for incumbents to undertake rent extracting activities rather than direct investment. In 2011, CAT sold its right to offer 3G to its concessionaire which is True Move in a complex M&A deal. The True-Hutch-CAT arrangement is under investigation by different agencies; while TOT sublicensed its 3G network to Samart Corporation subject to the Administrative Court deliberation of the legality of the contract. Liberalization and privatization are, in effect, put on hold.

In May 2013, AIS, True Move and DTAC launch 3G on the 2.1 GHz. True Move also launch LTE in Bangkok and promised to available in 15 provinces later in 2013.

Telephone system

High quality, especially in urban areas such as Bangkok; liberalization, as required by World Trade Organization commitment, is complete by 2006

  • Domestic: microwave radio relay and multichannel cable; domestic satellite including new iPSTAR satellite, so far the heaviest comms satellite in orbit.
  • International: Satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Pacific Ocean)


  • AM: 204
  • FM: 334, shortwave 6 (1999)

There are 13.96 million radios in use (1997).


There are a total of six free-to-air television channels in Thailand, which are: CH3 (BEC World), CH5, CH7 (BBTV), MODERNineTV, NBT (replaced TVT) and Thai PBS (replaced ITV and TITV).

There are 35.5 million televisions in use (2005).


Main article: Internet in Thailand

Submarine cables

There are five submarine cables used for communications landing in Thailand. Thailand has cable landing points in Satun, Petchaburi and Chonburi.

The Asia-America Gateway (AAG) is under construction and is expected to be operational in Q2 2009.

The Asia Pacific Gateway (APG), a new submarine cable, is under planning stage and is expected to be operational in Q3 2011.


Thaicom is the name of a series of communications satellites operated out of Thailand. Thaicom Public Company Limited is the company that owns and operations the THAICOM satellite fleet and operates other telecommunication businesses in Thailand and throughout Asia-Pacific.

Thailand-based Shinawatra Computer and Communications Co. Ltd. (now Shin Corporation) signed a US$ 100 million contract with Hughes Space and Communications Company Ltd. in 1991 to launch Thailand's first satellite communications project. The first Thaicom satellite was launched on December 17, 1993. This satellite carried 12 C-band transponders coveting a region from Japan to Singapore. Thaksin Shinawatra sold Shin Corporation, which owns 41% of Thaicom Public Company Limited.

Launch Dates

  • Thaicom 1 : December 17, 1993
  • Thaicom 2 : October 1994
  • Thaicom 3 : April 16, 1997; deorbited on October 2, 2006[12]
  • Thaicom 4 (IPSTAR-1): August 11, 2005
  • Thaicom 5: May 27, 2006

Telecommunications Regulatory Environment in Thailand

National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC)[7]

The NRA Organization Act of 2010 established the new National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) in December 2010 as a single converged regulator for the telecoms and broadcasting sectors in Thailand.[7]

The Telecommunications Business Act of 2001[13] laid down the rules for Thailand’s telecommunications industry by requiring telecoms operators to obtain a license from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). The Act classifies telecommunication licenses into three categories.

  • Type-one telecom license is for an operator without its own network.
  • Type-two telecom license is for an operator with or without its own network but provides services targeting a segment or even several segments of the public.
  • Type-three telecom license is for an operator with a network that provides services to the general public.

The 2001 Act was amended in 2006 under the supervision of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to allow foreigners to own a larger holding in a Thai telecommunications business.

In 2001, foreigners were not permitted to apply for type-two or type-three licenses under Thailand’s Foreign Business Act (FBA).[14]

The applicant applying for type two and type three licenses must be organizations where Thai nationals hold at least 75% shares and at least three quarters of the applicant’s firm directors and the person authorized to sign any binding commitments as a representation of the applicant firm must be Thai nationals.

The 2006 amendments repealed all the additional requirements of an applicant of type-two and type-three licenses, stating foreigners can now hold up to 49% in a telecommunications operator of type-two or type-three; no restrictions on the number of their foreign directors’ representation; and the authorized person signing binding commitments as a representation of the applicant firm can be a foreigner.

The telecoms license fee is composed of three types of fees - permission for license, renewal and an annual fee.

As of June 2013 the NBTC has granted 186 telecoms licensees, listed as follows:[15]

  • 144 type-one licensees
  • 7 type-two licenses without own network
  • 10 type-two licenses with own network
  • 25 type-three licenses

See also

Thailand portal


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the CIA World Factbook.
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