A new research report has revealed that despite the delayed auctioning of 3G spectrum in Thailand, mobile operators are moving forward with their 3G plans as data services continue to be the main driver of growth.
According to sources, operators have moved forward with 3G implementation in two ways: 1) receiving approval to upgrade networks to HSPA, and 2) signing MVNO agreements with TOT. These solutions would serve as stopgap measures before the 3G auction, which could happen by early 2012.
TOT is currently the only 2.1GHz 3G operator, serving the greater Bangkok region. TOT plans to invest $648 million in HSPA to cover 50 percent of the population by mid-2011, giving TOT a head start over the competition. Data services have been the main driver of growth in the mobile market this year, which is why operators are eager to forge ahead with 3G before the auction.
According to the report, smartphone sales grew strongly at 18% from 2008 to 2010, and are expected to grow at an even higher 30% CAGR from 2010 to 2015. Along with this growth, usage of data applications like email, video, and Internet browsing will grow, as well. Data cards will exhibit the highest growth at a 63% CAGR, as 3G networks, which currently are only operated by TOT and only cover the Bangkok area, are extended to cover 50% of the population by June 2011.