TOT plans to upgrade its existing basic fixed lines to internet protocol (IP) phone lines by 2025 in a bid to offset a downturn in demand for fixed-line services.
To achieve the plan, the telecom state enterprise has to transform all existing copper wire in its network to fibre-optic cable throughout the country.
Anurut Uthairat, TOT’s senior executive vice-president for fixed-line business, said the upgrade in technology will enable TOT to double its average revenue per user (ARPU) for fixed-line services to 400 baht per subscriber.
Mr Anurut said nearly 80% of TOT’s fixed-line network nationwide consists of copper wire, with the rest fibre-optic.
TOT is drafting a business plan and will submit it to the board for approval and then to the State Enterprises Policy Commission (superboard) and then the Digital Economy and Society (DE) Ministry.
“It’s too early to exactly estimate the budget for the network upgrade project,” Mr Anurut said.
He said fixed-line business is still essential for TOT even though its popularity is waning.
Fixed-line services are still required, as they serve as channels for business enterprises and corporations.
More importantly, shifting basic fixed-line services to IP phone will enable TOT to generate greater benefits through promotion service packages bundled with existing fixed broadband and mobile services in the long term.
TOT stepped into IP phone services in 2014 and now has fewer than 300,000 subscribers.
Mr Anurut said the network transformation plan will be part of TOT’s strategic roadmap after the end of True Corporation’s fixed-line telephone service concession in the metropolitan area on Oct 29.
True operates fixed-line services for the metropolitan area under a 25-year TOT concession with a quota for a maximum of 2.6 million subscribers, on the basis of a 16% revenue-sharing condition.
True’s fixed-line subscribers once reached 2 million subscribers, but today there are just 900,000.
Mr Anurut said the 25-year concession generated some 198 billion baht for True and 41 billion baht for TOT. Under the 25-year build-transfer-operate (BTO) concession, TOT acquired telecom infrastructure assets worth 86 billion baht.
Mr Anurut said TOT is now ready to take control of True Corporation’s fixed-line telephone services and look after the remaining 900,000 subscribers after the concession ends.
The transition will have no effect on consumers because TOT has already prepared the operational procedures, including the billing system, back office, maintenance systems and call centres.
Mr Anurut said acquiring True’s 900,000 subscribers will generate almost 200 million baht a month or 2.4 billion baht a year.