True gears up for WiMax internet
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True Corporation is increasing its marketing budget to spur WiFi internet demand in anticipation of the arrival of WiMax, the more powerful next generation of wireless broadband technology. The company plans to apply for a WiMax testing licence from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) as soon as it is available.
Commercial service would be scheduled to start next year.
The move is part of a strategy to expand broadband internet services to rural areas that True's network does not cover.
Phaibul Sirivanich, director for consumer services of True Corp, said the company expected WiFi users to increase from 40,000 to 100,000 by the end of this year. Broadband internet subscribers would reach 700,000 this year, up from 550,000 currently.
He said True planned to move aggressively in stimulating WiFi service demand in the third quarter to pave the way for WiMax, expected to be launched next year.
True would need to invest at least one billion baht in building a whole new WiMax network nationwide.
But the investment scale would depend on the conditions and regulatory framework set by the NTC.
Mr Phaibul said the company planned to promote WiFi and WiMax on a single tariff platform under its convergence services, with the planned introduction of a bundled tariff package for both WiFi and WiMax.
Existing WiFi customers could be upgraded to WiMax immediately once the company rolls out the service.
True yesterday joined with Unilever to allow customers to exchange two Unilever ice-cream wrappers for a free True broadband entry fee, worth 500 baht. The campaign is targeted at pre-teen customers aged between 10 and 15 years old. Mr Phaibul said it was expected to attract at least 5,000 young users.
He said that True had five broadband customer segments _ pre-teen, university students, newly graduated students, stock investors and new users of notebook computers.
Average revenue per WiFi user is about 400 baht per month.
Mr Phaibul said Thailand's broadband penetration was projected at 1.5 million subscribers this year, up from one million last year.