DTAC talks up Line Mobile ‘brand’ amid controversy

Line Mobile is just a second brand of Total Access Communication (DTAC) that is fully owned and operated by its subsidiary, DTAC Trinet (DTN), says chief digital officer Andrew Kvalseth.

“Line Mobile is not Thailand’s first second brand of a major mobile operator, as market leader Advanced Info Service already operates a second brand: You Mobile,” he said.

The telecom regulator still receives full revenue for the licensing fee as all revenue from Line Mobile will be transferred to DTN, which holds a mobile licence from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

Mobile operators have to pay 4% of their total revenue to the NBTC annually, comprising 1.5% for the operating fee and 2.5% for the universal service obligation.

Amid complaints from DTAC’s rivals, Mr Kvalseth said Line Mobile is clearly not a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), a claim disputed by other operators.

A MVNO is a mobile operator that provides mobile service without its own telecom networks, leasing network capacity.

Line Mobile is a new DTAC brand, he reiterated.

Line Mobile officially launched its digital mobile service on Sept 19 and is an independent team owned by DTN in collaboration with Line Thailand.

Voice and data services for Line Mobile are operated by DTN, while Line has granted the right to use the brand name Line Mobile to DTN.

DTN pays a loyalty fee to Line Thailand, although it did not disclose the sum.

“Line Mobile and DTN executives can explain all of the legal angles to the NBTC. … It is impossible to temporarily suspend the service on the charge that the service violates existing regulations,” said Mr Kvalseth.

Line Mobile is intended to provide service to a niche segment, especially digital and online users.

Less than 5% of overall telecom sales come from online channels and 15% of telecom customer care is done through online channels.

That means means traditional industries are not keeping up with their customers, he said.

The GSMA, a trade body for mobile network operators worldwide, said second brands for mobile network operators are a global phenomenon.

GSMA Intelligence said second brands are part of a strategy usually limited to saturated markets — the average penetration rate for countries that feature second brands stands at 127%.

In Thailand the penetration rate stands at 133%.

Mr Kvalseth said Line Mobile had more than 10,000 users during its beta services but declined to update the exact number of Line Mobile’s active users.

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