dtac’s resilience strategy for a transformed Thailand

Digital-first strategy of high-speed internet for all and personalized services can respond to fast-changing consumer behaviors while lifting Thai society’s resilience

22 February 2021 – Today, dtac unveiled deep changes in Thailand’s mobile users to which it is responding with the continued rollout of 5G/4G sites and digital-first services. User data highlights the emergence of new segments in 2020, such as remote workers and rural digizens. To best serve their specific needs, dtac is investing in a range of network technologies, such as 5G/4G dynamic spectrum, while cementing its leadership on TDD and massive MIMO. The operator also stressed that the dtac app will deliver more affordability and enhanced services.

Sharad Mehrotra, Chief Executive Officer at Total Access Communication Plc or dtac, said, “Connectivity is an essential service and dtac’s high-speed internet will lift the resilience of our customers. In addition to affordable and reliable 4G and 5G, we are also developing a wide range of services to empower their digital lives. In 2021, dtac is committed to making our customers’ experience smoother, more personalized and more rewarding.”

HIGH-SPEED FOR ALL

dtac’s data indicates that the social distancing measures of 2020 reshaped Thailand’s mobile usage. Data usage in the provinces grew nine times faster than in Bangkok. Likewise, smartphone penetration grew three times faster outside of the capital. This underscores that rural and sub-rural users are increasingly digital. To better serve them, dtac is committing to 4,400 sites operating on 700 MHz nationwide within Q1’20. A low-band spectrum, 700 MHz provides the widest possible coverage and dynamic spectrum sharing between 4G and 5G.

Prathet Takuranun, Chief Technology Officer at dtac, said, “It’s never been more important for us to deliver high-speed internet for all. Our accelerated rollout of sites on the 700 MHz band will vastly improve our rural coverage. Low-band also boosts indoor coverage and upload capacity, making it perfectly suited for the growing number of remote workers and students in residential areas.”

dtac identified four new usage patterns that emerged in 2020, and which require matching network solutions:

  • The New Rurals”: In 2020, data usage grew nine times faster in provinces compared to Bangkok. Smartphone penetration also grew three times faster in provinces. The superior coverage offered by dtac’s 700 MHz sites will be a game changer for these users.
  • “The Remote Deskers”: This category encompasses students who study virtually due to lockdowns and remote office workers, as both rely heavily on productivity apps and video conferencing. From Jan 2020 to Jan 2021, usage of Zoom grew 5050% and Google Hangouts 740%. This also led to data traffic growing faster in residential areas than in city centers. These users’ priority is indoor coverage and upload capacity, which dtac will deliver with 4G/5G dynamic spectrum sharing on 700 MHz.
  • “The Non-Stop Streamer”: Lockdowns have caused spikes of entertainment usage for YouTube and Tiktok. Nonetheless, dtac was able to hold on to its Download Experience Award from Opensignal for the second time in a row by tripling its capacity at high-traffic locations nationwide, with 5G-ready massive MIMO technology and over 20,400 TDD sites nationwide in partnership with NT.
  • “The Critical User”: Hospitals and emergency services, as well as essential businesses, increasingly depend on mobile connectivity to function. By virtualizing 100% of its core network and upgrading its IT infrastructure, dtac is now more resilient in case of lockdowns or natural disasters. And dtac is also exploring 5G use cases on 26GHz and 700 MHz that will deliver highly-secure networks.

DIGITAL-FIRST RESILIENCE

In keeping with changing customer behaviors, the dtac digital ecosystem has also evolved to be more inclusive, entertaining and rewarding. By encouraging the use of touch-free, always-on channels, dtac ensures its customers can enjoy uninterrupted connectivity in any situation.

How Lih Ren, Chief Marketing Officer at dtac, said, “dtac’s customers expect highly personalized services tailored to their individual needs, which dtac delivers with AI-powered recommendations. They also expect a very smooth experience in all our channels, and a whole universe of useful and fun services, from games and discounts to health insurance. dtac’s growing ecosystem of digital benefits ensures our customers can stay safe and happy while using touch-free channels.”

Mr. How also unveiled the five key consumer trends that underpin resilient mobile services.

  1. “Digital-First Experiences”: As all mobile users become more digital, including prepaid and rural users, digital experiences must provide smoother customer journeys: seamless online to offline experiences (such as online purchase and in-store pickup), multiple languages and touchpoints (chat & shop, WeChat mini app in Chinese, dtac App in Burmese) and new media integration (Facebook Live, Tiktok).
  2. “Digital Inclusion”: Digital services are often designed for the best devices and most advanced users first. dtac is instead designing a rewarding digital experience for all. In line with the dtac’s high-speed internet for all, dtac reward is now open to prepaid customers. Moreover, use of digital channels is rewarded via the instant gamification of dtac coins.
  3. “360-degree Personalization”: Using artificial intelligence, dtac makes highly personalized recommendations that outperform generic offers by a factor of three. This contributed to 40 percent growth of the dtac app’s monthly usage in 2020.
  4. “New Business Normal”: dtac is forging partnerships to bring customers new services such as health insurance, discounts at licensed pharmacies or safe internal money transfers. These services boost customers’ digital inclusion and resilience.
  5. “Trust Matters”: dtac commits to being a trusted and secure internet provider whose priority is to safeguard personal data. This is in addition to supportive services such as Jai Dee borrow or Jai Dee Transfer, and the overall affordability of dtac’s services.

A RESILIENT FUTURE

dtac also announced its broader commitment to supporting the resilience of Thai society by conducting its business responsibly.

  • dtac’s latest initiative, Net for Living, will train low-income sellers to develop a digital revenue stream. www.dtac.co.th/dtacNetforLiving/
  • For children, dtac will continue its Safe Internet program which has already taught digital resilience skills to over 200,000 students. www.dtac.co.th/sustainability/th/project/Project-SafeInternet
  • Lastly, dtac views global warming as a serious threat to Thailand’s resilience. It has committed to halving its GHG emissions by 2030 and to zero landfill for its general waste and e-waste by 2023.

Mr. Mehrotra said, “dtac has the privilege of being in a position where we can have a strong impact on Thailand’s recovery in 2021. We are staying the course for our strategy of high-speed internet for all and supporting our customers’ digital transformation. It is based on our deep understanding of our customer needs, so that dtac may bring them happiness, resilience and lots of luck for the Year of the Ox.”