Chairman of the board Panthep Jamrasromran announced that the board has instructed TOT to find a way to reinvigorate its MVNOs to sell more SIM cards, blaming inflexibility and red-tape for the slow uptake in 3G. Currently, TOT claims 200,000 subscribers despite being launched in December 2009, years ahead of the competition.
TOT had originally set a revenue target of $84 million (2.586 billion Baht) for 2012, but Panthep said the company now expects revenue of $23 million (718.24 million Baht), or just 30% of the original forecast. If this continues, TOT will be eyeing cumulative debt of up to $325 million (10 billion Baht) by 2017 for its 3G operations.
This year, the board so far released 10 million Baht extra from contingency funds to pay for the 3G project.
TOT launched its 2100-MHz 3G network in December 2009 and is still the only operator in the standard spectrum in Thailand. Lack of speed, poor coverage and delays in network expansion has left it struggling in the wake of more agile private-sector operators.
TOT controversially sacked its CEO in January citing lack of performance and the board took control of day-to-day operations.
The state telco has also been sending mixed signals to its MVNO partners, earlier saying that all the current MVNOs will be cancelled and new ones selected once the $975 million (30-billion Baht) 3G network upgrade is completed.