Sanpachai Huvanandana, President, CAT Telecom: Interview

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Sanpachai Huvanandana, President, CAT Telecom

Interview: Sanpachai Huvanandana

How can Thailand tap into the booming telecoms market of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by investing in regional infrastructure?

SANPACHAI HUVANANDANA: The Thai telecoms sector must take advantage of the high rates of digital growth being experienced around the region. As CAT Telecom manages the nation’s international telecoms infrastructure, we are expanding and upgrading our existing capacities regarding international terrestrial and submarine cable networks, as well as planning to invest in new routes. Due to the high growth rate in data usage both domestically and abroad, the infrastructure must be in place to serve an expanding customer base. Geographically, Thailand is in a strategic position to play an important role in connecting the large economies represented by the AEC, China and India. Despite this potential, there are of course many challenges present in achieving this endeavour. Current roadblocks facing efforts to integrate regional networks include pricing, demand forecasting and ensuring that value addition is brought to the customer. Nonetheless, the region continues to develop and experience growth in an interconnected fashion, and the telecoms sector is no exception.

In what ways are network performance and efficiency being enhanced, and how might planned asset restructuring further these aims?

SANPACHAI: Investing in core network efficiency continues to be a primary focus, and services across Thailand currently have a standard service level agreement. Emphasis is also put on corrective and preventative maintenance in order to guarantee the quality of services and reduce mean time to repair. In order to expand the coverage area, which currently stands at around 97% of the nation, more towers are currently being built to extend coverage to the most remote areas while improving quality for areas already covered. In terms of asset restructuring, the state-owned telecoms operators – namely CAT Telecom and TOT – are currently focused on merging their resources in order to address key areas of the national telecoms infrastructure. Through consolidating expertise and the spinning-off from these services into separate entities, efficiency can be ensured for the respective networks.

What impact might price cuts in wholesale broadband network service leasing have on private telecoms operators in Thailand?

SANPACHAI: The mobile operator market in Thailand is very competitive, especially because operators are promoting the launch of 4G networks. As the lessor of high-speed wireless broadband network services to private operators, we have already cut the wholesale rate for our mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) by 10%, with further rate cuts for those that commit to buying larger lots. As a state-owned enterprise we encourage the growth of MVNOs. More service providers means greater customer choice; it is our duty to encourage competition for the benefit of the consumer. Additionally, as we own the spectrum and many infrastructure assets, it is our objective to utilise these more efficiently to ensure a higher return on investment.

What role can the telecoms sector play in the Thai government’s digitisation plan?

SANPACHAI: The focus of Thai economic development has advanced greatly over the decades, from agriculture to light and heavy industry, and on to its current stage, Thailand 4.0, which promotes creativity and innovation in products and economic sectors.

The Thai government’s digitisation plan and the telecoms sector play a substantial role. Internet penetration, which is important to supply the necessary base for this form of economic activity, is heavily correlated with GDP growth. Soft infrastructure, including human resources and government policy, are equally important, and the sector will continue to make advancements in all of these areas as we move forward.

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The Report: Thailand 2017

ICT chapter from The Report: Thailand 2017

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