Telecommunications in Thailand

Telecommunications in Thailand are based on an extensive network of telephone lines covering the country. TOT Public Company Limited and True Corporation operate the majority of the telephone network in the Bangkok metropolitan area while TOT Public Company Limited and TT&T Public Company Limited operate the telephone network in other provinces. After the 2006 Thailand coup d'état in September 2006, Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont announced plans to merge TOT with CAT Telecom in order to operate a 'Telecom Pool' where providers rent the ability to be able to operate rather than receiving a concession with hopes that the new system will create a more competitive environment driving growth in the sector. After the General Election in 2008, successive government abandoned the telecom pool projects and continued liberalization process which had been undergone since 2000.

During recent years, mobile cellular telephone ownership has grown at a much faster rate than landline ownership. This was partly driven by the mobile communications price wars in 2004-2005 which pushed prices down to as low as 0.25 Baht/minute.[1] There are approximately five times as many mobile cellular telephones than landlines in use. On current data, slightly over half of the Thai population owns a mobile cellular telephone, with more numbers allocated than number of population.

There are several newspapers in mass circulation in Thailand with Thai Rath being the most popular. Of the several newspapers in mass circulation, three are English. Printed media in Thailand is subject to much less government control in contrast to the television where all free-to-air channels except one are government owned and run. This may change in the future as the new 2007 Constitution of Thailand will have a section guaranteeing free-to-air channels independent of the government.



  • Main lines in use: 9.1 million (2007)[2]
  • Mobile cellular: 98 million (2011)[3]
  • Fixed Line Operators: TOT, True Corporation and TT&T
  • Mobile Operators (largest first): AIS GSM 900, AIS GSM 1800, DTAC, True Move, Hutch (taken over by RealMove a subsidiary of True Corp.), CAT CDMA, Thai Mobile 1900 (inactive), TOT3G (i-mobile3GX, IEC3G, i-kool3G, 365)
  • Major Voice over IP (VoIP) Operators: CAT2Call (CAT Telecom), TrueNetTalk (True Corporation), Mouthmun (Jasmine Internet), DeeCall (SawasdeeSHOP)
  • Recently, the NTC granted the existing mobile phone operators the right to undertake "in-band migration" from 2G into 3G using 900 and 850 MHz. The IMT Band Plan has already been approved in January 2009. The proposed band plan reflects IMT 2000 recommendation. It is expected that the 2.1 GHz will be up for an auction within 2009. It has been reported that NTC will device Multiple Round/ Ascending auction technique for 3 blocks of 10 MHz paired and one block of 15 MHz paired. I
  • In September 2010, NTC arranged 3.9G licenses auction (IMT 2100). But CAT Telecom sued the NTC in the Administrative Court, claimed that NTC does not have authority to hold the auction. Following a petition filed by the government's wholly owned companies, the High Administrative Court issued an injunction order on September 23, 2010, to stop 3G auction resulting in near guarantee of domination of the incumbent to exploit 2G services. Only government owned operators (i.e. TOT and CAT) are allowed to roll out 3G.
  • The suspension order issued by the Administrative Court paved way for incumbents to undertake rent extracting activities rather than direct investment. In 2011, CAT sold its right to offer 3G to its concessionaire which is True Move in a complex M&A deal. The True-Hutch-CAT arrangement is under investigation by different agencies; while TOT sublicensed its 3G network to Samart Corporation subject to the Administrative Court deliberation of the legality of the contract. Liberalization and privatization are, in effect, put on hold.

Telephone system

High quality, especially in urban areas such as Bangkok; liberalization, as required by World Trade Organization commitment, is planned to be complete by 2006

  • Domestic: microwave radio relay and multichannel cable; domestic satellite including new iPSTAR satellite, so far the heaviest comms satellite in orbit.
  • International: Satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Pacific Ocean)


  • AM: 204
  • FM: 334, shortwave 6 (1999)

There are 13.96 million radios in use (1997).


There are a total of six free-to-air television channels in Thailand, which are: CH3 (BEC World), CH5, CH7 (BBTV), MODERNineTV, NBT (replaced TVT) and Thai PBS (replaced ITV and TITV).

There are 35.5 million televisions in use (2005).


Submarine cables

There are five submarine cables used for communications landing in Thailand. Thailand has cable landing points in Satun, Petchaburi and Chonburi.

The Asia-America Gateway (AAG) is under construction and is expected to be operational in Q2 2009.

The Asia Pacific Gateway (APG), a new submarine cable, is under planning stage and is expected to be operational in Q3 2011.


Thaicom is the name of a series of communications satellites operated out of Thailand. Thaicom Public Company Limited is the company that owns and operations the THAICOM satellite fleet and operates other telecommunication businesses in Thailand and throughout Asia-Pacific.

Thailand-based Shinawatra Computer and Communications Co. Ltd. (now Shin Corporation) signed a US$ 100 million contract with Hughes Space and Communications Company Ltd. in 1991 to launch Thailand's first satellite communications project. The first Thaicom satellite was launched on December 17, 1993. This satellite carried 12 C-band transponders coveting a region from Japan to Singapore. Thaksin Shinawatra sold Shin Corporation, which owns 41% of Thaicom Public Company Limited.

Launch Dates

  • Thaicom 1 : December 17, 1993
  • Thaicom 2 : October 1994
  • Thaicom 3 : April 16, 1997; deorbited on October 2, 2006[4]
  • Thaicom 4 (IPSTAR-1): August 11, 2005
  • Thaicom 5: May 27, 2006

Telecommunications Regulatory Environment in Thailand

LIRNEasia's Telecommunications Regulatory Environment (TRE) index, which summarizes stakeholders’ perception on certain TRE dimensions, provides insight into how conducive the environment is for further development and progress. The most recent survey was conducted in July 2008 in eight Asian countries, including Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Pakistan, Thailand, and the Philippines. The tool measured seven dimensions: i) market entry; ii) access to scarce resources; iii) interconnection; iv) tariff regulation; v) anti-competitive practices; and vi) universal services; vii) quality of service, for the fixed, mobile and broadband sectors.

The average result of the TRE survey in Thailand (2.8 out of 5) reveals mixed performance of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the Thai telecom regulatory body. Higher TRE scores for market entry (3.1), tariff regulation (2.8) and quality of services (2.9) are interrelated. That is, the NTC has clearly adopted a liberal licensing regime that has led to increased competition in many markets, in particular, the broadband and the international internet gateway markets. New entrants into the broadband market are guaranteed access to the local loop or can request for a WiMAX license. Abolition of the monopoly over the international internet gateway (IIG) was a major boon to the industry. Greater competition in mobile, broadband, and IDD has resulted in lower costs and higher service quality that helped boost TRE scores in these categories. TRE scores are slightly lower for interconnection, universal service and anti-competitive practices.[5]

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the CIA World Factbook.

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