New AIS chief sees big challenges ahead

25 Aug 2006

Wichian Mektrakarn, the new president of AIS, has admitted that he faces an uphill task to restore the image of


's largest mobile phone operator.

'With all the hardships during the transition period of AIS, including the unclear status of Shin Corp with the shareholding by Temasek Holdings, the anti-Thaksin unrest, AIS's weakened brand perception in terms of network quality due to the price war, I've been under pressure from all of these factors -- those uncontrolled ones in particular,' Wichian said.

As president, Wichian is coming to terms with responsibilities that include overseeing the financial, services and marketing aspects of the business, in addition to the engineering area that his true area of expertise.

An engineer by training, he has spent the last 10 years in charge of the AIS network and its rapid expansion, but he says he's not worried about the prospect of handling non-technical duties.

Wichian succeeded Yingluck Shinawatra on August 16, after the caretaker prime minister's youngest sister left AIS on March 1.

The challenges were in addition to the already intense price competition from rival operators DTAC and True Move. The price war drew hundreds of thousands of new subscribers but also strained the capacity of all three operators' networks. AIS, as the largest player by far, bore the brunt of complaints over dropped calls.

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