AIS and True hustle for 5G edge with partners
First round of testing starts this month
Advanced Info Service (AIS) and TrueMove H are competing to be the first mover in 5G readiness and infrastructure development after the regulator allowed the 26-gigahertz spectrum range to be used for 5G technology testing.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) recently allowed operators to use the 26GHz spectrum range for the first round of 5G technology testing between Nov 22 and Dec 15.
Operators must report their results to the NBTC following testing, including the related effects of 26GHz usage on other communications systems, said NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith.
AIS is planning testing with Nokia, while TrueMove H is pairing with Huawei Technologies.
The NBTC acknowledged that Total Access Communication (DTAC) is also preparing to ask for approval for 5G.
Wasit Wattanasap, AIS's head of nationwide operations and the support department, said the company is studying to prepare for future technologies, especially 5G wireless broadband network development.
"AIS aims to have Thais experience the speed and strong signal of 5G service this month," he said. "This trial will allow people to clearly see the benefits of 5G."
The company launched a 4.5G network with a maximum speed of 1 gigabits per second and Massive MIMO 32T 32R. It partnered with chip and smartphone manufacturers to launch Next G, enabling customers to experience the first 1Gbps high-speed network in Asean.
Apart from developing NB Internet of Things (IoT) and eMTC (enhanced machine-type communication) networks, AIS has begun studying and upgrading the AIS Core Network Architecture in every region to be ready for 5G, capable of direct communication with multiple service servers instantly without rerouting to the central network. This will result in faster response rates with low latency.
Although the business cases are still unclear, Mr Wasit said AIS believes that 5G will enhance the capability of various industries driving the country's growth through network performance by upgrading higher data speeds and expanding wireless connectivity capacity of massive machine-type communications (mMTC) to support IoT. Network quality improves with 5G, making AIS services suitable for medical safety and self-driving cars.
Naris Rangsinoppamas, deputy director for network planning and strategy at True Corporation, the parent of TrueMove H, said he travelled to China to select a full set of 5G equipment and will bring it back to Thailand for testing in downtown Bangkok soon.
TrueMove H announced its 5G project last year after successfully testing global-standard FDD Massive MIMO 32T32R technology at base stations for the first time in Thailand and the deployment of Licensed Assisted Access, also for the first time in Thailand, this year.
Mr Wasit said AIS holds the biggest frequency bandwidth for 4G services and will be the first to upgrade the infrastructure of core technological networks for 5G.
AIS has the most bandwidth among operators, totalling 120MHz (60MHz x 2). In addition, AIS has been using Super Block (20MHz x 2) on the 1800MHz band for the development of its network quality nationwide to offer 30% faster 4G services to more than 40.6 million subscribers since the end of September.
"In order to complement Thai behaviour and reach 70% growth in customer data provision over last year or about 10 gigabytes per person per month, AIS has partnered with TOT to share TOT's network for the commercial use of 2100MHz spectrum," Mr Wasit said. "This allows customers to experience 20-30% faster data speeds and increases AIS's network capacity for data provision by 25%."