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Thailand gears up for 5G

Thai government forms 26-member committee to develop a roadmap for 5G adoption and address roadblocks related to the recall of unused spectrum from state agencies

The Thai government has formed a 26-member national 5G committee to spearhead the roll-out of 5G networks in Thailand.

Chaired by Thai prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the committee will look to address roadblocks related to the recall of unused spectrum from state agencies for the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), in exchange for compensation.

It will also promote cooperation between related agencies for 5G development and develop a roadmap for 5G adoption and infrastructure development, according to the NBTC’s secretary-general, Takorn Tantasith.

The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted Thailand’s major telecom operators to speed up deployment of 5G technologies. The country’s top mobile operators are already racing to deploy 5G networks at hospitals to support doctors and medical personnel to fight the virus.

Application of 5G in public health demonstrates how digital infrastructure can have a significant impact on people’s health during a major emergency,” said Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Thailand’s digital economy and society minister.

The Thai government has been working with Huawei to implement artificial intelligence and 5G technology at hospitals in the country to perform medical diagnosis more efficiently through a high-speed network.

In February 2020, the NBTC raised $3.2bn from 5G spectrum auctions, surpassing its expectations. Thailand’s biggest telco, AIS, secured 23 out of 49 licences, with the remaining licences snapped up by True Corp, TUC, TOT, DTAC and CAT.

Following its spectrum win, AIS has rolled out its 5G network at selected locations in Thailand, such as the Thapae gate in Chiang Mai, the monument of Thao Thep Krasattri in Phuket and Pattaya in Chonburi.

According to the 2020 Mobile economy report by the GSM Association (GSMA), 46 operators in 24 markets had launched commercial 5G networks by 30 January 2020. One in five mobile connections is forecast to be running on 5G networks by 2025.

Read more about 5G in ASEAN

“The mobile operator worldwide investment forecast will be more than a trillion dollars over the coming years, focused on rolling out advanced networks to serve both consumer and enterprise customers,” said Mats Granryd, director-general of the GSMA.

“Over the last 12 months we have seen the 5G ‘hype’ make way for reality: millions of consumers are already migrating to 5G, while enterprises are beginning to embrace 5G-enabled network slicing, edge computing and low-latency services.”

Julian Gorman, the GSMA’s head of Asia-Pacific, noted that social distancing and movement control measures during the Covid-19 pandemic could limit the ability of mobile operators to deploy 5G network sites, although he does not expect significant delays in launches.

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