More South-east Asian markets will end 2G services, Fitch predicts

A woman checks her phone at an Apple store at in Bangkok.
JANUARY 28, 2019 - 11:50 AM

WITH Thailand’s telecoms regulator the second in the region to shut down 2G mobile services, other more mature markets are expected to soon follow suit, Fitch analysts have said.

Still, impact on operators should be short-term - largely on the back of customer migration - as the analysts estimated that Thailand had as few as 176,000 2G active voice subscriptions at end-2018, in a market of 40 million mobile customers.

They identified the 2G shutdown as a response to the increasing consumption of mobile data, which “has forced operators to acquire or repurpose spectrum toward more advanced 3G/4G services”.

“The main focus of operators, however, will eventually shift to 5G,” the Fitch analysts wrote, noting that the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission plans to auction off 700MHz spectrum now used for digital TV services.

“Thailand becomes the second country in South-east Asia to retire 2G services, after Singapore switched off its legacy network in 2017, and we expect this trend to continue starting with more mature telecoms markets as spectrum becomes increasingly scarce.”

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