Ericsson boss urges proactive 5G approach
Thai telecom operators can add a further US$2.6 billion (83.3 billion baht) or 22% in revenue by 2026, driven by the fifth-generation (5G) wireless network, the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem and digital transformation in the manufacturing, energy and utilities sectors, says Ericsson.
Nadine Allen, president and country manager of Ericsson Thailand, said enhanced mobile broadband will be the first 5G use case in the country and that will evolve into IoT use cases.
First-mover operators of 5G will be able to gain several competitive advantages including offloading the existing 4G network, moving heavy data-consuming users to 5G, capturing lucrative use cases and business models, and strengthening its leadership brand.
"IoT and 5G are fundamental to realising the Digital Thailand vision, thus operators and the government should be preparing to capitalise on the full potential of 5G," Ms Allen said.
Speaking on the sidelines of Thursday's Do Zone Ericsson Thailand event, which features the latest innovation from Mobile World Congress 2018, she said while 4G remains critical for all telecom operators, stepping towards 5G is key to securing new revenue pools and boosting competitiveness.
The technology afforded by 5G could provide data rates up to 100 times faster than 4G, which will create opportunities for new use cases in IoT, augmented reality and virtual reality applications, smart vehicles, remote healthcare, and robotics.
According to Ericsson's new economic study of enhanced mobile broadband, 5G will make the transfer of each gigabyte 10 times cheaper than under 4G.
Ms Allen said 5G is critical for managing data traffic growth while boosting capacity and efficiency because data traffic demands have been growing significantly every year.
The Ericsson Mobility Report in 2017 showed total mobile traffic will grow by a factor of eight over 2017-23.
In addition, 5G will represent 20% of global traffic by 2023, and video is expected to grow 10 times, reaching 75% of total traffic over the next five years.
She encouraged Thai telecom operators to prepare to be first-movers on 5G adoption as it's the largest opportunity for operator-addressable 5G-related revenue, particularly in manufacturing, energy and utilities, healthcare, public safety, public transport, and media and entertainment.
Ms Allen said first-movers will gain strong advantages through four core capacity efficiencies: massive machine-type communication; enhanced mobile broadband; critical machine-type communication; and fixed wireless access.
During 2012-16, some 73% of 4G first-movers globally have grown their market share since their 4G launch.
For Thailand, she said operators expect to gain an additional 10% of revenue per year on average after 5G adoption.
"5G ecosystem development in Thailand is expected to begin between 2020 and 2022," she said.
However, Ms Allen said spectrum allocation and industry collaboration are keys for driving 5G ecosystem development in country.
Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), said the NBTC plans to allocate a total of 380 megahertz of downlink and uplink slots through four spectrum ranges by 2020 to fulfil development of the digital infrastructure landscape under the government's Thailand 4.0 policy.
The plan is expected to handle the exploding demand for online services, innovative applications and IoT in the long term.