THAILAND: Two operators ready to make money from IPTV

True Corp, ADC aim to make Internet-protocol television worth two billion baht by 2008

Bangkok Post
Tuesday, June 27, 2006

By Srisamorn Phoosuphanusorn

The market for Internet-protocol television (IPTV) in Thailand has now become commercially viable, say the two leading players who are rushing to tap the demand.

The two providers -- True Corp and ADC, a joint venture between Advanced Info Service and TOT Corp -- forecast that Thailand's IPTV market will be worth at least two billion baht by 2008. However, some executives in the industry remain uncertain as to whether customer response will match these expectations.

Three-in-one or "triple play" digital broadband television is new this year in the Thai market. It enables users to watch interactive television and real-time video-on-demand while simultaneously making telephone calls and surfing the Internet.

Service providers claim that IPTV represents a major new chapter in Thailand's media and entertainment story. But some industry executives believe the services would also challenge the current offerings of the pay-TV providers, notably the market leader UBC, another True affiliate.

True and ADC are servicing customers in Bangkok to test the demand for IPTV, while the provincial fixed-line telephone provider TT&T plans a full nationwide launch early next year.

Paisit Vatjanapagorn, director and general manager for broadband broadcast and multimedia of True Corp, said True would need only three months to bring its IPTV services up to a mass-market commercial scale.

"We expect to have at least 300,000 IPTV subscribers by the end of 2007, targeting university students and working people in the upper market," he said.

True IPTV was expected to generate a total of two billion baht in revenue per year, based on a subscriber base of 300,000 users, he said.

Mr Paisit said IPTV was likely to grow along with demand for broadband services, noting that True currently had a 90% share in the local high-speed broadband Internet market.

True is bombarding its 400,000 high-speed broadband customers with messages to entice them to test the new digital technology.

ADC, meanwhile, is reviving its digital broadband TV business with the resumption of aggressive marketing of Buddy Broadband, after addressing a number of problems including poor network coverage of TOT and a lack of co-operation between the two partners.

Since its launch in April 2005, ADC has signed up only 5,000 subscribers for Buddy Broadband, far short of its sales target of 80,000 customers by the end of this year.

Mr Paisit acknowledged that the obstacle to the success of IPTV in the Thai market was the limited variety of appealing content available, rather than the technology itself.

Cost could also be a deterrent, he said, since a subscriber needed an IPTV-enabled router that costs 2,500 baht, plus a deposit of 2,000 baht for a set-top box.

Attractive charges for the services would be another key factor in creating interest among a large number of users, he added.