Thailand’s two major operators True Corp and AIS registered growth in mobile service revenue in the opening quarter of 2024, supported by continued gains in prepaid ARPU and 5G adoption, with nearly 22 per cent of mobile subscribers on next-generation network plans.

True led 5G customer growth, adding 4.7 million connections from a year earlier to end March with 11 million. AIS picked up 2.7 million 5G subs to boost the count to 9.9 million.

But the duo recorded very different bottom-line results. AIS booked a 25 per cent jump in net profit to THB8.5 billion ($231.4 million), aided by a contribution from Triple T Broadband, acquired in November, despite higher finance cost and forex losses, the company noted. 

True, which merged with Telenor’s dtac in March 2023, suffered a net loss of THB769 million, up from a loss of THB491 million in Q1 2023, due to a one-off THB1.6 billion impairment charge related to a network upgrade and a 9.1 per cent hike in depreciation and amortisation expenses. 

Mobile service revenue grew 5.2 per cent to THB32.5 billion, and product sales fell 17.2 per cent to THB4.8 billion. Prepaid ARPU rose 6.7 per cent to THB109, while post-paid was up 2.1 per cent to THB422.

Its total mobile user base inched up 1.2 per cent to 51.1 million, with 1.1 million prepaid additions and the loss of about 500,000 post-paid subs.

Capex in the quarter dropped to THB3.6 billion from THB17.6 billion a year earlier.

Mobile revenue at AIS increased 3.7 per cent to THB30.3 billion, attributed to rising 5G adoption, cross-selling efforts and a recovery in spending by tourists. SIM and device sales improved 5.7 per cent to THB10.5 billion.

Its user base dipped 2.4 per cent, with post-paid flat at 12.7 million and prepaid down 3.5 per cent to 32.3 million. Prepaid ARPU rose 12 per cent to THB135, while post-paid was stable at THB448. Average data consumption per month increased 5.3 per cent to 33.7GB.

AIS maintained its 13 per cent to 15 per cent growth target for core service revenue in 2024, while True predicted service revenue to increase by 3 per cent to 4 per cent. AIS earmarked THB25 billion to THB26 billion in capex this year, down from THB41 billion in 2023; True expects to spend THB30 billion compared with THB37.1 billion last year.

Both operators have claimed their 5G networks cover 90 per cent of the country.