Telenor – Building a new telecom-tech company in Thailand for growth 2.0

During a briefing with media in Thailand, Sigve Brekke, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Telenor Group and Jorgen Rostrup, EVP and Head of Telenor Asia, Telenor Group talked about Telenor’s ambition to build great telecom-tech companies in Thailand and Asia.

The roundtable discussion happened one day after Telenor and Axiata received regulatory clearance in Malaysia to move on to the next steps with the Celcom-Digi merger in that market.

When Telenor enter the Thai market 20 years ago, the company’s vision was that every Thai deserves a mobile phone and should be able to afford it. Telenor launched market-changing initiatives such as per-second billing and new marketing and distribution models to bring affordability to the masses. Today, Thailand’s mobile phone penetration is 86% with 98.5 million mobile connections. That was what Sigve Brekke called Telenor’s growth 1.0 in Thailand.

For the next 20 years, Telenor’s growth in Thailand will look very different. Sigve Brekke said that the telecommunications industry is facing a perfect storm with new technologies – artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and 5G – coming together. It will no longer be about connecting people together but connecting machines and physical objects to the Internet. There will be a data explosion and you will need AI to make sense of the enormous amounts of data generated. You will need speed (5G) to connect hundreds and even thousands of these objects.

He highlighted new ways consumers, businesses and governments can use this group of technologies – from port operations to defense and medicine.

The competitive landscape for telcos will be very different. Competitors will not just be traditional telcos but global platform companies such as AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft. These global platform companies will be both partners to telcos but also competitors. Telenor has signed global partnerships with AWS, Google and Microsoft.

Sigve Brekke said: “What Telenor is trying to build in Thailand is not a telco company. We are trying to build a new technology company that will enable Thailand to take advantage of the perfect storm of technologies and deliver new products and services for Thailand. We can only do so if we have scale to partner these global companies. A small local telco will not be of interest to these global companies who are after scale.”

Jørgen Rostrup, EVP and Head of Telenor Asia added: We believe the amalgamation of dtac and True will create a strong company who can invest and contribute to future digital and technology development in Thailand. This is an opportunity for Thailand to be propelled into growth 2.0 and put the country in the forefront. Thailand needs two strong market players, not one strong and two weak.

The new telecom-tech company will be good for consumers, business, startups and stakeholders. We are bringing Telenor’s deep technology expertise from across our Nordic and Asian footprint into this new company. At the same time, we will uphold high responsible business standards, support digital talent development and create a workplace that is fit for the future.”