Thai AIS cuts investment plans with 3G on hold

CIOL Bureau
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BANGKOK, THAILAND: Advanced Info Service Pcl (AIS), Thailand's top mobile phone operator, will invest about 6-8 billion baht ($195-260 million) a year in coming years, lower than its previous estimate, since it will not have 3G costs.


AIS, 21 per cent owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, had said it would spend 45 billion baht over three years to install a 3G network after it obtained a licence to offer third-generation services.

But a court suspended the licence auction on last Thursday at the request of a state telecoms company and that could set back the arrival of 3G by up to two years.

"Without 3G, we should spend around 6-8 billion baht a year," AIS head of corporate planning and investor relations Pornrat Janejarassakul told reporters on Friday.


The company was on track to invest 6.2 billion baht this year, including 2.4 billion for upgrading its network for data services, he said.

The market leader expected second-half revenue growth lower than the 5 percent in the first six months due to the base effect, but the company was on track to add a net 4 million subscribers this year, Pornrat said.

At the end of June, AIS had about 30 million subscribers.

AIS was expected to pay a special dividend this year, on top of its normal annual dividend of 6.3 baht, because the company did not need to keep money for 3G investment after the auction was suspended, analysts said.