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Pattaya Daily News

08 August 2008 :: 09:08:23 am 3624

Making Business Sense with 3G

Telephone and Internet services are vital to economic and social growth everywhere but not readily available in the rural areas of emerging markets. With this in mind, governments, businesses and public agencies focus a large amount of resources on improving communications in these regions. Thailand is not an exception.
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Thailand, the 8th of August 2008 [Pattaya Daily News]: Wireless systems, with their broad coverage, low deployment cost and usability for fixed, portable and mobile applications are excellent alternatives to connect rural communities. Further, 3G wireless systems have become very prevalent due to their unsurpassed economies for delivering voice and data services, capacity to support rapidly growing subscriber bases and ability to support advanced revenue-generating services.

In countries and markets throughout the world, increases in telephone and Internet penetration helps to stimulate the economy. According to the Telecommunications Management Group, for every 1 percent increase in mobile penetration, a 4.7 percent increase in average per capita income is observed; similarly, for every 1 percent increase in Internet penetration, a 10.5 percent increase in average per capita income is witnessed. With 3G technologies, both the enterprise and personal markets are able to be even more productive since they have even greater mobility, faster data transfer rates and higher available bandwidth. This improved usability also contributes to GDP as more consumers take advantage of wireless data services and enhanced features.

3G technologies offer the greatest data throughput capability and therefore the lowest cost data services. As data throughput increases, each Base Transceiver Site (BTS) cellular site can handle higher volumes of data traffic, and the network requires less equipment and fewer cell sites, reducing operational expenses and capital investment. Since nearly one third of villages in Thailand are located in rural, mountainous areas where network expansion is geographically difficult, it makes sense for service providers and regulators to consider using 3G technologies to reach these communities since fewer cell sites would be required.

Some people have questioned whether Thailand really needs to evolve its cellular networks to 3G from the existing GSM (2G) and GPRS (2.5G) technology. Since voice and SMS make up the majority of usage on existing networks in the Thai market, there’s a perception that the up-front investment in 3G spectrum outweighs the benefits. However we can see that enhancements in applications and devices, such as Apple’s iPhone and the Asus Eee PC, as well as rapidly increasing data rates, will drive wireless usage to levels that are typical of today’s Internet. To utilize GPRS networks to transmit wireless data under this higher usage will ultimately result in higher costs to the consumer.

GPRS does not have the throughput and performance capabilities of 3G technologies like WCDMA and EV-DO. The network cost per megabyte to deliver data traffic can be more than five times more expensive using GPRS technology than when using 3G technologies. Ultimately, that cost gets passed on to the consumer.

Other Asian markets have already realized the benefit of migrating to 3G. Maxis, the biggest operator in Malaysia, launched WCDMA services in July 2005 and introduced HSDPA in September 2006. Using these advanced 3G networks, the operator has been able to offer a number of data-centric applications, including full-track music downloads and video on demand. They also offer broadband wireless internet access utilizing devices like PC data cards and USB modems. In doing this, Maxis has increased the number of active 3G users by more than 300 percent to 1.3 million in the last year. Most impressive, however, is how Maxis was able to use its HSDPA service to provide fixed and mobile broadband access for rural markets which lack sufficient ADSL and wireline broadband services. With 3G connectivity, there is a high potential for growth in Malaysia’s broadband penetration, currently around 15 percent.

Such a phenomenon can be observed in neighboring Indonesia as well. Figures released in May 2008 by Wireless Intelligence, a unit of the GSM Association, showed that the number of HSPA mobile broadband connections in Indonesia (315,000) has surpassed the number of fixed broadband connections (300,000) for the first time. With initiatives such as Excelcomindo and MLW Telecom’s “HSPA ZONE”, among others, mobile broadband access in the country is certainly gaining demand.

There are clear implications for Thailand as both operators and regulators seek to cover as much of the population with service capabilities as possible and do so economically. 3G services offer increased mobility and increased data speeds in addition to wider signal coverage. Greater speeds save time, increase productivity and often allow for greater price reductions on existing services which yield greater uptake. Further, the combination of greater speed and lower costs enables new kinds of data services which are relevant and beneficial to developing markets like Thailand. Some of these services include the ability to conduct telemedicine, to advertise goods and services, to support remote education and to host Web sites that permit residents of different towns to share news and events.

Allowing residents throughout Thailand to access these types of services is clearly an important step towards strengthening the country’s economy for the future, and the benefits will certainly outweigh the costs.

Further information, please contact:
Ms Voraparn Eua-arporn (coco)
GM of Farh Agency
Tel: 0 2616 0991-2, Fax: 0 2616 0993,
MB: 08 9144 4014, 08 1376 5927,
email: voraparn@febi.co.th

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Business News

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