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True baulks at 4G licence fee

Posted by pakin On February - 3 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

True Crop has halted the first instalment payment for its 900-megahertz spectrum licence until authorities clarify conditions for a possible new auction round.

The abrupt decision came just a day after a teleconference on Monday between top executives and shareholders of the company along with up to 50 global investment banks and analysts.

The meeting ended with a resolution to hold off paying the bidding fee for the 900MHz licence that True won last December and wait instead for a concrete explanation from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) about the possible reauction.

“We’ll submit a formal letter to the NBTC this week seeking a resolution to any reauction’s conditions before we make payment,” chief financial officer Noppadol Dej-Udom said.

“The move is just to ensure we don’t find ourselves in the unfair position of having to pay an exorbitant licence fee alone while other bidders enjoy much lower bid prices in a new auction round.

“As a matter of best practice, a fair consideration of the framework for a 900MHz reauction should be given to us.”

He said the NBTC should implement a new international standard for future auctions in order to prevent similar incidents.

Indeed, True hopes Jasmine International Plc can pay its own bidding fee in order to prevent any turbulence in the industry, Mr Noppadol said.

An NBTC source earlier admitted the regulator was quietly drawing up plans to call a new auction round for the 900MHz spectrum if bid winner and Jasmine subsidiary JAS Mobile Broadband failed to secure the massive funding it needed by March 21.

Rumours have circulated in the industry that Bangkok Bank rejected Jasmine’s initial borrowing plan.

The rumours came after banks started asking for new plans before licence winners could receive cash due to bids in the 900MHz fourth-generation (4G) auction running two or three times higher than expected.

Another rumour spreading online is Jasmine’s executives have ordered staff to remove the company’s 4G advertising billboards.

Jasmine chief executive Pete Bodharamik could not be reached for comment.

Industry veterans have pointed out that global standards for reauctions stipulate a previous winner — True in this case — must carry the same bidding price gap from the previous auction with the new co-winner.

One veteran said in the case of True and Jasmine, the latter’s JAS subsidiary won the first licence for 75.7 billion baht or 487% higher than the auction reserve price of 12.9 billion.

True Move H Universal Communication (TUC), a subsidiary of True Move, won the second licence for 76.3 billion baht or 491% above the reserve price.

True’s licence cost is about 600 million baht higher than JAS’s, so the winning price of the new 900MHz auction must have the same 600-million-baht gap with True, the source said.

“Let’s say the bidding fee of the new auction round ends at 50 billion baht. The NBTC should then reduce the fee payment for True to 56 billion baht,” the source said. “And Jasmine must shoulder the extra costs incurred by the NBTC for a new auction.”

The source also urged the regulator to impose a hefty fine on Jasmine to prevent similar incidents from occurring.

The source believes both Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS) and Total Access Communication Plc (DTAC) are interested in a new 900MHz auction if the reserve price is not set at the previous huge winning prices.

Mr Noppadol also said four or five commercial banks had already approved a syndicated loan worth 73 billion baht to True for bank guarantee payments.

Both JAS and TUC were given 90 days after the auction, until March 21, to make the first payment of 8.04 billion baht, half the estimated spectrum value. An additional 25% is to be paid by year-end and the final 25% next year, then any remaining bid amounts in 2018.

When the winners pay their first instalment, they must also post three bank guarantees for the remaining amounts. The delay will postpone the commercial launch of 4G wireless broadband in provincial areas.

“We are ready to make our bidding fee payment but will wait for a clear resolution before making any move,” Mr Noppadol added.

IoT, 4G to lead digital revolution

Posted by pakin On January - 14 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

RAPID GROWTH OF CLOUD AND BIG DATA SEEN WHILE INCREASED CONNECTIVITY WILL CHANGE |CONSUMER EXPECTATIONS

THE INTERNET OF THING (IoT) and 4G will be the key technologies that will Thailand’s digital transformation through 2016. Also, ubiquitous connectivity will push its way to the forefront of people’s lives this year and cloud and big data will continue to see growth with much greater adoption in Thailand this year.

Internet of Things leads digitisation

Cisco Systems believes that in 2016 digitisation should be a priority, as technology strategies will play a critical role. Vatsun Thirapatarapong, managing director for Thailand and Indochina at Cisco Systems, said Internet of Everything (IoE) and digitisation will be the top technology trends for 2016.

He said total IoT connections were estimated to reach 50 billion by 2020 and around 1.6 billion connected things will be used by smart cities in 2016.

Vatsun believes that in 2016, organisations must also address the “digital vortex” of disruption, the inevitable movement of industries toward a “digital centre” in which business models, offerings, and value chains are digitised.

“Digitisation should also be at the top of the corporate agenda because if the country is moving towards digitisation speedily, our businesses will be move faster and become more dynamic to realise the full potential of this opportunity,” said Vatsun.

The explosion of IoE and digitisation is driven by the development of IP-enabled devices, the increase in global broadband availability and the advent of IPv6.

“With digitisation, every aspect of day-to-day business will change. We will see more companies will embrace IoE and become digitised regardless of device and platform in 2016,” said Vatsun.

However, Vatsun said, the mega-trends in technology that will influence businesses across industries in 2016, which are rising quickly and will come together, are digitisation, mobility, cloud, IoT, big data and data analytics.

These technologies will force organisations to dis

rupt the way they do business, provide services to citizens and improve the quality of life, including safety and security. These disruptors offer differentiated products and services and better value than incumbents, also creating a hyper-competitive landscape driven by digital disruption, where lines between industries are blurring and markets are changing exponentially.

Ryan Goh, vice president and general manager of Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific, agreed that enterprise mobility, cloud, and the Internet of Things (IoT) will be the key technology trends for 2016.

The enterprise mobility market has grown rapidly over the last few years, as the Asia Pacific workforce increasingly works on-the-go and from mobile devices.

Meanwhile, the ubiquity of cloud and IoT has continued to impact every aspect of IT and how users access applications, information and business services. All these developments have triggered a greater demand for mobility solutions and smart interconnected devices, which provide visibility to assets, people and transactions, and the ability to turn intelligence into information that businesses can act upon for enhanced customer experience, better marketing strategies, or greater operational efficiency.

“IoT is truly taking off and we anticipate further growth around IoT in the year ahead, as businesses across all sectors are looking to be more informed with enterprise mobility and invest further in IoT technologies,” said Goh.

4G leads full digital transformation

Stephane Cudennec, customer business executive, Amdocs, APAC, said that digital transformation and mobile money will be the biggest influencers in 2016. With the arrival of 4G, everything will become digital. Digital transformation that supports the growing digital lifestyle will impact consumers across all industries, from banking to telecom to healthcare to services to shopping. Social networks, social media, mobile apps, online commerce, and mobile financial services will be the key enablers.

Sooner or later, all business will have to adopt digital channels for marketing, selling, and servicing their clients, and customer experience driven by digital lifestyle will be the biggest differentiator. Consumers are increasingly looking for personalised and contextualised experiences, which will see more adoption of big data analytics across the business landscape.

“Similarly, we see a growing trend of tight integration of online commerce and payments, which will drive adoption of mobile money and digital wallets,” said Cudennec.

The growing adoption of a digital lifestyle, faster Internet speed, and adoption of digital money will disrupt the paradigm of customer experience. Consumer expectations would change dramatically, impacting business models across industries. People will look for a consistent experience across all online and offline channels, regardless of their location, devices, or physical outlets.

New customer experiences will be driven by the increasing uptake of social media, mobile, online commerce and mobile financial services. There will be a continued buildout of digital channels and ecosystems. Operational and network efficiency is vital to compete with a shift to faster data networks (4G and to fibre) to enable higher bandwidth and streaming services.

Cisco Systems’ Vatsun also agrees that 4G will be pervasive in Thailand this year and mobility is still prevalent in the workplace in 2016.

According to International Data Corporation, in 2016, smartphone growth will be at 29 per cent while 40 million Thais will have their own smartphones by end of this year. This will be a key driver to increase productivity of the nation of every sector. It will allow more innovation in terms of citizen services, employee productivity, business creativity, as well as enable digital disruption through the mobile broadband.

Cloud and big data continue growing

Thanachart Numnonda , president of the Association of Thai ICT Industry (ATCI), said that cloud and big data will lead enterprises to go on cloud, and probably more than 55 per cent of them will use cloud solutions, and in particular software as a service (SaaS) will become common.

Large enterprises will seriously invest on private cloud, while small and medium enterprises may go for public cloud.

“Big data will go mainstream in 2016, especially in telecom, financial-security-insurance [FSI] and retails industries. They need to compete using big data to analyse customers, find new potential customers, and product offerings so that they can be competitive. Now many banks and telecoms are starting to invest on this,” said Thanachart.

Manoo Ordeedolchest, a member of the government’s Digital Economy Committee, said the foundation technology is networks. He said it is in the middle of connecting worlds, from human interaction, machine-to-machine (M2M), and man-to-machine interaction and collaboration, to create common value. These technologies will help disruptive business models and designs.

Vatsun said that this year, it will see more cloud-service providers entering this business seriously in Thailand. This will ensure organisations and companies in Thailand start piloting some of the applications on cloud service. It will ignite some organisations and businesses to start deploying private cloud, followed by hybrid cloud and cloud orchestration finally.

Moreover, cloud and appliances will drive the next wave of big data, according to Ovum’s latest report. We expect to see skyrocketing growth of cloud and big-data adoption in Thailand in coming years.

Meanwhile, Lenovo Thailand’s general manager, Jeerawut Wongpimonporn, believes the key features of this year will include growth of the mobile-first mindset as more people migrate to smartphones; and cloud technology and big data will be better understood and increasingly adopted as essential business tools.

He said this should have some impact on IT spending, as businesses upgrade to ensure they have secure systems as well as up-to-date hardware. Large corporates will try to prolong their change until they can see a clearer impact from the new business models, although some have started to run these in parallel with their current way of doing business. New start-ups will occur rapidly across industry, while consumers will be able to find a shorter route to suppliers which will bring down costs and most likely facilitate quicker delivery.

Overall, the digital economy will drive the entire supply chain and market significantly. The government’s digital economy will lead the impact on business practices across all industries in 2016. For example, the digital economy’s impact on the supply-chain system include that at the back end raw material suppliers will be able to reach more customers at lower cost and shorter lead times; at the middle, there will be more and more middle men involved in online businesses, as it will become easier and faster to grow with minimal investment; and at the front end, it will allow consumers to reach the original suppliers, leading to lower prices and faster delivery.

Ubiquitous connectivity

Ubiquitous connectivity will push its way to the forefront of people’s lives in 2016. The personalisation of the computing experience through sight, sound, and touch is another key trend that is set to crystallise.

Sontiya Nujeenseng, country manager for Intel Microelectronics (Thailand), said that Intel will witness the push towards smaller form factors that blend connectivity and portability with massively improved performance such as Intel’s Next Unit of Computing and Compute Stick. Moreover, Intel RealSense cameras embedded in devices that respond to human gesture control, virtual reality headsets with Intel’s latest Core processors, or voice-activated smart watches and smartphones, natural interfaces are inevitable consequences of ubiquitous connectivity. Additional applications will emerge as the technology percolates among developers.

“In Thailand, Intel has been involved in embedded technology for a period of time. This year, we will deepen our partnership with government agencies, private enterprises, telecom providers, and system integrators to scale out of the blueprint and pilot phase towards live deployments such as the smart-fleet management of the “All Thai Taxi”. This year we will scale out to other industries. We will put continuous efforts so that Thailand is well-positioned to consolidate smart devices through Internet of Things (IoT) technologies,” said Sontiya.

Similarly Microsoft Thailand general manager Orapong Thien-Ngern believes that the convergence of connectivity, cloud and mobility technologies will drive the Internet of Things (IoT) to grow rapidly.

He said that the connected technologies undeniably offer exciting new ways to live and work; they simultaneously also raise the risk of exposure to security and privacy threats. Thai enterprises will place even greater emphasis on cloud security and take critical steps to safeguard their customers’ personal data and sensitive data crucial to their businesses.

Thai enterprises will increasingly leverage data as a new form of currency to innovate, harness and analyse the data from today’s connected devices, and make these insights mission-critical to their businesses.

Small and medium businesses in Thailand will lead the rapid adoption of cloud technologies, as they seek out innovations that will reduce cost, differentiate their competitive advantage in the new AEC region, and improve customer service delivery.

Consumers and individuals will connect even more devices and demand for seamless transitions of their work and personal data between devices of different screen sizes and platforms.

Santa tracked by Google, Microsoft

Posted by pakin On December - 25 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

SAN FRANCISCO – Google and Microsoft had their virtual eyes on Santa Claus and his gift-laden sleigh on Thursday.

Each of the rival technology giants continued their separate Internet holiday traditions that allow children, no matter how grown up they might be, to track Santa online as he makes his way around the world on Christmas Eve.

“Google’s Santa Tracker launches today — And it’s time to follow the jolly man’s sleigh,” the California-based Internet firm said in a blog post playfully penned in rhyme.

“The elves have been working hard for this night, Santa’s village is abuzz — tonight’s the big flight.”

The santatracker.google.com website includes an animated map and a running tally of the number of gifts delivered.

Microsoft once again partnered with the North American Aerospace Defense Command on an interactive website at noradsanta.org where Santa’s reindeer-drawn sleigh can be seen making its way over countries around the world.

NORAD’s involvement began 60 years ago when a wrong telephone number printed in a newspaper advertisement resulted in children calling for Santa.

The commander on duty that day had staff provide callers with updates on Santa’s location and the tradition evolved into the NORAD Santa-tracking website.

“Throughout the year, we can be pretty cynical,” Matthew Quinlan, marketing director for Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, said in a blog post.

“But this is one moment where we can see things again through a child’s eyes, and it gives us a fresh sense of wonder.”

The NORAD Santa-tracking website includes games and allows people to ask Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant software, where Santa is at any given moment.

Start-ups on the rise

Posted by pakin On December - 21 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

For those with passion to join the start-up community, 2016 might be the right time, said Ruangroj “Krating” Poonpol, founder of Disrupt University, an intensive project that teaches start-ups and venture partner of 500 TukTuks.

500 TukTuks, a micro-fund of 500 start-ups focused on promising Thai firms announced it will increase the fund size to US$12 million (433 million baht) and will invest in 60 to 70 start-ups over the next three years. Led by Ruangroj together with CEO of Ookbee Natavudh Pungcharoenpong, 500 TukTuks has been operating for about three months now.

“There are more numbers of high quality start-ups, so we decided to increase the fund from $10 million to $12 million, which is the size suitable for Thailand’s market,” Ruangroj said, adding it is the right time for the company should to in many small firms in order to create the new wave of start-ups.

500 TukTuks expects to increase its funding to 40 to 50 million by next year.

A few years back, start-up companies gained experience from incubation programmes supported by telecom operators. This year, the country’s start-up community has gone a step further as they have received funds which will help them develop faster.

There has always been a concern that the start-up industry is a bubble. But Ruangroj does not think that way, saying technology is an important part of every business equation.

“Next year will be a turning point, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance for SMEs to transform themselves into start-ups because the funding, the connections, the market and consultation are now ready. Otherwise it will be too late. Those who do nothing now and next year will certainly miss the train,” Ruangroj commented.

According to Natavudh, at the end of the day, not all start-ups will survive, but it takes three to five years to prove which start-ups grow or die. For those who survive and are growing, 500 TukTuks will help them by raising the second round of funds. The first round of fund-raising will take 12-18 months.

In the first round which takes around three years, 500 TukTuks plan to invest in some 60 companies or 20 start-ups a year with $100,000 in each start-up. For the second round, the funding will be around $200,000.

So far the company has invested in 10 start-ups which all are now in their seed rounds.

In the meantime, Ruangroj noted that Thai start-ups can take the opportunity of the AEC to expand their markets as Thailand is geographically the centre of linkage in the region. The well-recognised “unicorn” start-ups like Lazada and Grabtaxi are already in Thailand, but they are not Thai. Over the next few years, we will see which start-ups are thriving and failing.

According to Ruangroj, the Thai government should review the laws and regulations for start-ups. The issues of regulatory frameworks and IP frameworks, and many things that apply to public companies, should be also applied to the private companies, the same as in Singapore, otherwise more Thai start-ups will go to register in Singapore for better advantages and incentives.

“[If Thai start-ups choose to register in other countries] the government will lose benefits, not the start-ups, because money will only flow out to other countries,” he said. “Therefore the government can catalyse and accelerate the start-up ecosystem as this is the global current and we have seen some potential Thai start-ups will be competitive in the region.”

n  Omise: A payment gateway designed to make payments easier for everyone.

n  ClaimDi: A mobile application for claiming insurance.

n  Blisby: An online marketplace for crafts and handmade products in Thailand.

n  Hubba: The first and the best co-working space in Thailand.

n  Wishbeer: The top premium craft beer e-commerce store in Thailand.

n  Skootar: A platform to find cheaper but more reliable messengers to deliver packages or documents.

n  FlowAccount: A cloud-based accounting platform for SMEs.

n  TakeMeTour: An online marketplace that matches travellers with local experts.

n  Stylhunt: E-commerce fashion platform to find reliable and stylish shops online.

n  WashBox24: The laundry dropbox with a mobile application to track clothes and notify customers.

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