ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thai TOT 3G rescued by Malaysia
Asia's largest low-cost airline signed a 49:51 joint-venture deal last week with a group of Thai investors to establish Tune Talk Thailand Co.
The company, with 100 million baht in registered capital, will provide 3G wireless broadband services on behalf of TOT Plc, with the planned debut of its Tune brand on January 13, 2011. Tony Fernandes, the founder and CEO of AirAsia, said his entry into the Thai mobile market was intended to create a new value-added lifestyle and low-cost communications service with "one SIM card, one flat calling rate throughout the region".
Tune Talk will use the Celcom (Malaysia) network in the region. Tune Talk will market 3G services on behalf of TOT as a so-called mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).
Mr. Fernandes said he planned to apply AirAsia's strategy to make wireless data usage more accessible.
The company plans to focus on providing no-frills voice roaming and a seamless data package in a simple, value-for-money product with attractive incentives, easy accessibility and the widest distribution reach. "We are confident in the Thai market now that TOT has set a clear 3G business direction, and AirAsia is the first company in Thailand with strong MVNO experience," Fernandes said. He shrugged off any concerns over telecom legal hurdles and ambiguous regulations, saying AirAsia had had its share of experience with bureaucracy because of the nature of the airline business, which it considers the most complicated industry in the world.
He also believes his timing is perfect. With the 3G expansion plan of TOT still not clear, he sees it as a good opportunity for the company.
The company plans to spend 300 million baht on marketing and administration under a three-phase budget plan.
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