Thailand’s telcos are optimistic about their ongoing rollout of 5G infrastructure and its ability to ignite not just technological but also substantial social change in the country and beyond, according to representatives from the country’s two largest telcos at Bangkok Post’s 5G: The Game Changer conference on Thursday.
ENABLING THE REVOLUTION
Vichaow Rakphongphairoj, the executive vice-chairman of True Corporation, said 5G take-up is expected to be significantly faster than 4G in the worldwide market. By 2025, 5G subscriptions will account for around 30% of all mobile subscriptions. Moreover, China will likely have the highest number of 5G subscribers, totalling one billion.
Covid-19 has had an impact on all business sectors across the globe with market capitalisation declining sharply by around 20-30% and unemployment skyrocketing to 188 million.
Regarding Thailand, Mr Vichaow said the country is a leader in embracing 5G technology in the Asean region thanks to 5G licences auctions earlier this year and network roll-outs by major operators.
Although the Covid-19 has created new practices of working from home, social trends, analytics, e-learning and security, and health and wellness, 5G will enrich this new normal.
“5G can help forge the country’s recovery through low latency, ultra-high-speed connectivity and wider bandwidth,” he said.
Mr Vichaow added that 5G will help push up transformative industries for Thailand including supply chains and logistics, operation and production, product innovation, sales and marketing, and service and support.
They would have to be done through monitoring and tracking, maintenance, smart surveillance, augmented reality, connected vehicles, remote operations, and autonomous robotics.
However, there are several challenges that still remain to enable 5G adoption such as cross-sector cooperation in vertical industries, high-spectrum costs, high capital expenditure, and high operating cost.
LEADING THE WAY
An increase in 5G infrastructure investment is a critical need currently to allow the overall recovery of the economy as well provide a fundamental shift in serving digitisation, Pratthana Leelapanang, Chief Consumer Business Officer of Advanced Info Service (AIS) said at the conference on Thursday.
He added that the company is committed to expanding its 5G investment in order to create a new infrastructure for the country through Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) projects and core sectors to lead Thailand’s recovery in a post-pandemic world.
AIS is prepared to invest a budget of 35 billion to 40 billion baht to develop digital infrastructure. Moreover, AIS has already been providing 5G network coverage in all 77 provinces since May.
To push Thailand’s recovery, Mr Pratthana said there are five core categories that AIS will boost investment in to meet this goal.
First, the industrial sector in the EEC must be enhanced in management capability in all areas including the ground, air, and marine sectors.
Currently, Amata Corporation, Saha Pathana Inter-Holding, and WHA Group are testing a 5G smart city.
Moreover, BBS Joint Venture Group, co-investor of U-Tapao Airport Development Project and Eastern Aviation City have begun testing a 5G smart airport while the Port Authority of Thailand is testing 5G in Laem Chabang Port.
Second, AIS will continue supporting telemedicine in the public health sector via its Robot for Care project.
Third, AIS is working on 5G Smart Retail with Central Retail Group to pioneer the retail industry to cover the upstream, midstream, and downstream lives of people, including fairer wealth distribution between the producer and the buyer. Moreover, it hopes to push the employment capacity to 2 out of 3 in the country.
Fourth, AIS plans to help develop new multimedia to create an immersive experience with AR/VR technology, along with the Tourism Authority of Thailand to create a new unseen Thailand experience to attract both Thai and foreign tourists, with Thailand’s first Reality AR/VR Studio.
Last but not least, AIS will help promote sustainable development with 5G for the environment, agriculture, and sustainable urban development. It has partnered with Thammasat University to create an SDG [Sustainable Development Goal] Lab on the 100 rai of land at Thammasat University’s Rangsit Campus as a model for Thais to recognise the significance of looking after the environment.
Mr Pratthana added that building ecosystem partnerships are a core factor for improving the efficiency of 5G implementation in the country.