Thai digital skies to light up for OneWeb’s Internet services launch

Picture courtesy of The Business Journals

OneWeb’s broadband Internet services, facilitated by low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, are anticipated to launch in Thailand by the fourth quarter of this year, marking a significant step in expanding digital connectivity across the nation.

In a collaborative effort, OneWeb has teamed up with state telecom enterprise National Telecom (NT) to offer these services. NT provides the necessary gateway station facilities, while OneWeb leverages NT’s landing rights licence to operate within the country, explained Colonel Sanphachai Huvanandana, president of NT.

This development follows the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission’s (NBTC) resolution on May 27, approving the partnership to deliver satellite broadband internet services under NT’s landing rights.

Col. Sanphachai highlighted the mutual benefits of the partnership, noting that NT would earn fees from providing gateway and facility services to OneWeb. Additionally, NT plans to wholesale part of OneWeb’s broadband capacity in the local market, sharing the revenue with OneWeb, said Col. Sanphachai.

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“The satellite broadband service from OneWeb is not expected to compete directly with existing fibre broadband services but may influence the market for broadband provided by geostationary satellites.”

NT is seeking a licence to offer foreign satellite broadband services, aiming to distribute OneWeb’s LEO broadband capacity locally. The partnership aims to introduce the broadband service by the fourth quarter, delayed by four months from its initial schedule.

Licensing framework

NT submitted its proposal for the necessary licences to the NBTC last year, aligning with the NBTC’s new licensing framework for foreign satellites. This licensing regime includes three categories: landing rights, gateways, and services.

Col. Sanphachai previously mentioned that the partnership intends to leverage ground station facilities in Thailand for regional service deployment. NT is poised to be a hub for OneWeb’s LEO satellite services in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam, with related equipment already installed at its facilities.

The gateway station for OneWeb’s services is situated at NT’s facility in Ubon Ratchathani province. Under the agreement, OneWeb contracts NT to develop, equip, and manage the ground station facilities in Thailand. This infrastructure supports the delivery of commercial broadband services via LEO satellites by OneWeb in both Thailand and the broader region.

The station infrastructure is NT-owned, while the equipment is imported by OneWeb.

Pisut Ngamvijitvong, senior equity research analyst at Kasikorn Securities (KS), remarked that Thaicom was not surprised by the NT-OneWeb partnership, as NT had completed the ground station construction in Ubon Ratchathani several months ago.

OneWeb’s current bandwidth capacity for Thailand stands at 2 gigabits per second (Gbps), according to KS. Thaicom is exploring business opportunities with both NT and OneWeb, having previously collaborated with OneWeb in Australia.

Competitive pricing

Pisut noted that Thaicom offers robust end-to-end solutions and competitive pricing in user terminals. However, KS views the NT-OneWeb deal as potentially negative for Thaicom, the brokerage indicated.

“In the worst-case scenario, Thaicom’s market advantage could be undermined.”

The NBTC’s approval might pave the way for other foreign satellite operators to enter the Thai market.

Despite this, KS does not dismiss the possibility of Thaicom becoming a key partner in the NT-OneWeb alliance or potentially contesting the regulator’s decision regarding the partnership.

Pisut concluded that it remains too early to predict the financial implications for Thaicom from this collaboration.

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Alex Morgan

Alex is a 42-year-old former corporate executive and business consultant with a degree in business administration. Boasting over 15 years of experience working in various industries, including technology, finance, and marketing, Alex has acquired in-depth knowledge about business strategies, management principles, and market trends. In recent years, Alex has transitioned into writing business articles and providing expert commentary on business-related issues. Fluent in English and proficient in data analysis, Alex strives to deliver well-researched and insightful content to readers, combining practical experience with a keen analytical eye to offer valuable perspectives on the ever-evolving business landscape.

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