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National Broadcasting Telecommunications Commission to prepare Thailand for 5G implementation by 2020

An announcement made by the Bangkok Post highlighted the responsibility of the National Broadcasting Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) and the steps it needs to take in developing the necessary telecom infrastructure for the targeted implementation of 5G wireless systems by 2020.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said, “I have already ordered NBTC Secretary General Takorn Tantasith to prepare for the adoption of 5G.”

The NBTC will be responsible for Thailand’s commitment to develop the necessary telecom infrastructure to fully adopt fifth-generation (5G) wireless systems by 2020.

Mr Somkid explained that Thailand should take a big leap and adopt 5G technology within two years rather than implementing it with a step-by-step wireless system development approach because gradual progress may be too slow.

The NBTC is tasked with the discussing with the private sector the developments and preparation for 5G infrastructure.

Mr Somkid said, “I have already talked to many private companies, and they have agreed that Thailand should develop this technology.”

He added that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is scheduled to announce standards for 5G technology development by the end of this year or early next year.

Thailand's digital technology has made great strides over the past three years. Mr Somkid shared that the Thai government has invested in infrastructure for broadband internet on a nationwide level, including submarine communications cables as part of the investment scheme.

Infrastructures for the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have been invested on by the government as well. These will all support start-up development as well as help in driving the economy of Thailand forward according to Mr Somkid.

He furthered that the current trade value of e-commerce has reached US$80 billion (2.55 trillion baht). This has increased expectations that e-commerce will take a huge leap forward once advanced digital infrastructure is in place.

Mr Somkid said that according to NBTC data, 121 million Thais own mobile phones. 40 million of which have internet access.

He added, “The Thai economy is likely to grow more than 5% once digital technology takes shape, especially with start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).”

Mr Takorn explained, “Thailand will not miss the 5G train, as technology will play an essential role in improving the domestic economy, in implementing Thailand 4.0 and in uplifting quality of life.”

The NBTC is pushing the development of telecom infrastructure necessary to fully adopt 5G by 2020, which includes implementing NBTC's spectrum allocation roadmap for a variety of spectrum ranges.

In order to create 5G awareness in enterprises, corporations and the general public, NBTC collaborated with local telecom operators and global vendors through several public forums. A 5G public forum campaign already started last year and will continue until 5G is launched commercially in 2020.

A panel in charge of transition to 5G was already formed last year by the NBTC according to Mr Takorn. The panel serves as one of NBTC's main points of contact with telecom operators.

“We do not want to see Thailand move into the 5G ecosystem too late, which is why we are facilitating all related infrastructure, including spectrum allocation,” Mr Takorn said.

The NBTC plans to allocate a total of 380MHz of downlink and uplink slots through four spectrum ranges by 2020.

President and Country Manager of Ericsson Thailand Ms Nadine Allen said Thai telecom operators can add up to US$2.6 billion in revenue (or 22% of their total) to their forecast in 2026, once 5G is in place.

She added that 5G will enable the development of an IoT ecosystem, as well as the transformation of critical industries such as manufacturing, energy and utilities. Both IoT and 5G are fundamental to realising the Digital Thailand vision.

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