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12 Feb 2020

Industry

Investment in 5G technology...telecom operators face various challenges in terms of market, costs and technology (Current Issue No.3084)

            In 2020, Thailand's wireless communication technology is about to experience another turning point. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) will auction the 5G spectrum in the 700 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2600 MHz and 26 GHz frequency bands on February 16, 2020, aiming to roll out the 5G network service in some areas by the middle of this year. The latest development is in accordance with the Thai government's policy to advance Thailand toward a digital economy and realize the ambition of Thailand 4.0. It will also create incentives to attract high-tech investment from various industrial sectors propelled by Thailand's readiness for the future digital infrastructure. In response to the policy, telecom operators are working on their bidding proposals and investment in the 5G network in order to launch the service in the middle of this year.

           ​To invest in the 5G technology, telecom operators are likely to face various  challenges, namely, the readiness of market and technology as well as cost burden. In particular, the demand for the 5G service in the first three years is expected to be limited. Therefore, telecom service providers ought to carefully lay down their business plans to address these financial questions. For example, they may select areas for network investment and their target customers, i.e. business organizations to ensure cost efficiency. Also, they will have to set affordable fees for the 5G service by finding guidelines to control the network investment cost. i.e., the network sharing agreements. Also, they will have to differentiate the service from what is offered during the 4G era by developing diverse 5G services with emphasis on speed and prompt responsiveness, which are key factors to attract users, especially when the internet of things (IoT) technology has not been widely popular in Thailand thus far.