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India,Korea,Thailand

Round-Up: Major News This Week

AIS Launches BROADBAND, AND HOOQ

Thai telco AIS launched fixed broadband services this week on the back of aggressive pricing and new value-added services including Hooq, an online video platform backed by AIS investor, Singtel.

Entry-level pricing runs at B590/US$18.20 a month for customers in condos looking at a 15 Mbps plan, while users in landed properties can pay B750 a month for a 20 Mbps plan.

AIS’s broadband networks include fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), fiber-to-the-building (FTTB) and copper infrastructure, as the company looks to reach a mix of residential properties.

Network build-out is limited but AIS is targeting 100,000 subs by year-end. The company needs about 1 million subs to break even, which management expects within three years.

Key add-on services include a free IPTV product and Hooq, currently given one month free with 15 Mbps plans, and six months free with 30 Mbps plans. After the promotion period expires, subs can top up the service for B119/month.

Firmer Finances For AIRTEL DTH

Indian DTH operator Airtel Digital TV posted strong results for its March quarter – its Q4 FYE March 2015.

The company crossed the 10 million net subs milestone, up 12% year-on-year, while higher HD penetration and upselling helped raise monthly Arpu to Rs214/US$3.50, compared with Rs203 for its March quarter in 2014.

Cash generation is also improving, with operating free cash flow coming in at ~Rs750 million/US$12.3 million for the quarter, compared with cash burn of Rs811 million in the corresponding quarter last year.

Ebitda grew 115% Y/Y, while Ebitda margins came in at 32.7%, an impressive 530 basis points (bps) rise Q/Q, and nearly 1,500 bps more Y/ Y.

HBO Deal Boosts LG UPLUS

Korean telco LG Uplus continues to see steady momentum its IPTV business. Revenues scaled up to W114 billion/US$100 million in Q1 2015, while customers soared past 1.2 million, thanks to 91,000 net new additions during the quarter.

The rise in subscriber numbers was attributable to an exclusive content deal with HBO, organic growth across on-demand and online TV services (powered by improved search and discovery services), and more consumer downtime during the winter holidays.

JASMINE SEES BROADBAND SPIKE

Thai telco Jasmine expanded revenue by 12% to B3.3 billion/US$100 million in Q1. Broadband net adds grew to 81,000 in the quarter (from a trailing quarterly average of 54,000), for an end-March base of 1.8 million.

The company plans to bid for 4G spectrum licences in August, as it looks to work with a strategic partner. It is expected to spend B25-35 billion on 4G, with funds partly sourced from the listing of a broadband infrastructure fund.

KT SKYLIFE STILL SLUGGISH

Korean DTH/IPTV Korean operator KT SkyLife saw its operating profit fall by 5% to W30.4 billion/US$30 million in Q1, but results still beat expectations due to lower-than-expected marketing costs.

KT SkyLife added less than 800 customers over the quarter, although churn appears to have reduced now the company has completed full HD conversion. Subscriber momentum has yet to recover after a poor 2014.

The company is betting big on new Ultra HD (UHD) services to launch later this year, in a bid to energize both customer and Arpu growth.

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