NBTC to mull 5G testing requests from telcos

Economy November 20, 2018 01:00


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THE NATIONAL Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) board will consider on Thursday whether to allow two major telecom operators to conduct testing of 5G wireless broadband technology.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said yesterday that the watchdog would assign the idle 26GHz band to Advanced Info Service (AIS) and True Corp to conduct tests.

He made the remark yesterday at a seminar on 5G hosted by Bangkok Post Group.

He added that their 5G testing period would be from November 22 to December 15. 

AIS will conduct the test with Nokia-Siemens Networks equipment at Emporium shopping mall and True will do so with Huawei equipment at EmQuartier shopping mall.

Total Access Communication (DTAC) will also ask the NBTC for permission to test 5G on the same spectrum.

Takorn said that 5G technology could bring drastic changes to Thailand’s social, economic and political landscapes, including a change in manufacturing structure, according to an NBTC analysis.

In the full 5G era, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things will gradually replace human workforce in the manufacturing sector.

Many services will be offered directly to end-customers via digital platforms of manufacturers, bypassing the traditional middlemen and conventional intermediate agencies. The new digital technologies will also generate new businesses and services.

AIS chief corporate officer Weerawat Kiattipongthaworn told the seminar that 5G could effectively handle a massive number of devices. It offers connection speed of 10 gigabits per second, 100 times faster than 4G technology.

It also has better technical capability than 4G to serve advanced services such as driverless cars.

He added that the growth of 5G would be driven by industrial users, while 4G growth is being mainly driven by consumers.

Weerawat said that countries that are in a hurry to launch the 5G service are those that are producing related technology and equipment. However, Thailand, as a technology buyer, has to think carefully about investing in 5G technology.

True Corp co-president Vichaow Rakphongphairoj told the seminar that healthcare, transportation, agriculture and manufacturing sectors could be key sectors to drive the growth of 5G use.

However, he is doubtful if 5G could get off the ground smoothly in Thailand if the 5G spectrum bands come with hefty price tags.

DTAC chief executive officer Alexandra Reich said at the same seminar that to ensure a sustainable 5G environment, different industries and the public and private sector must collaborate.

“To be effective and sustainable, Thailand’s 5G strategy must engage entire industries, connecting businesses not only to consumers but also to other businesses, in entirely new ways,” she said.

In a separate matter, DTAC Trinet, a subsidiary of DTAC, yesterday paid the first upfront instalment of more than Bt6.693 billion (including VAT) for the 1800MHz licence to the NBTC.