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Don Sambandaraksa

TrueMove loses 6.7m subscribers so far in 2015

TrueMove’s second quarter numbers are out and at a glance, the numbers are not looking good for China Mobile’s new partner.

True ended 2014 with 23.6 million subscribers according to its own published numbers - 19.7 prepaid and 3.8 million postpaid subs. The numbers for Q1 fell 2.1 million to 21.5 million with 17.5 and 4 million prepaid and postpaid subscribers, respectively.

So we are 2.2 million prepaid subs down in Q1 so far.

In True’s own words, “True Mobile Group ended the second quarter with 19.5 million subscribers, of which 19.3 million were under its 3G and 4G businesses. Postpaid acquisition remained strong with 121,842 net additions while the decline in prepaid customers of 2 million during the quarter was driven by the prepaid registration regulation.”

This means 200,000 are on the old concessionary network that keeps getting extended.

So with 121,842 postpaid net additions in Q215 and 4,130,842 postpaid subscribers that leaves 15,369,158 which must be prepaid subscribers.

In other words, they lost another 2.1 million prepaid subs in Q2 in addition to the 2.2 million lost in Q1.

At least they are consistent.

Things get interesting when those numbers are mapped against the NBTC figures after the SIM registration deadline of 31 July which puts TrueMove at 13 million

So in the space of the month of July, TrueMove lost a further 2.3 million subscribers.

Ouch.

In contrast, in July AIS lost just 100,000 subscribers and Dtac 1.3 million by comparing their published Q2 numbers to final NBTC registration figures. As a percentage, AIS, Dtac and TrueMove lost 0.2%, 6.0% and 17.6% respectively.

Double ouch.

Of course the registration deadline has been extended and the regulator seems to think of it as a consumer protection measure, but seriously, if have they have not registered already, chances are they never will.

Besides if it were simply a case of laggards, the percentages would not be that different between the three telcos now, would they?

What’s going on? I have my theories - a lot of them having to do with the sheer technical excellence of AIS and how they are pushing the bleeding edge when it comes to network rollout on their meager 15-MHz while TrueMove, with more long-term spectrum than anyone else, is simply too stingy with International bandwidth and the way its transparent proxies mess up websites and secure connections are too often a joke on social media. For a fan of Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, think Trantor and Terminus.

What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall in a bar with China Mobile, Orange France Telecom and Verizon now.