Total Access Communication (DTAC) joined hands with TOT Plc and CAT Telecom on Monday to launch 5G testbeds at Chulalongkorn University and the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) under a public-private partnership (PPP) model.
The tests, scheduled to begin operations in July, will include both lab and live testing of 5G use cases at the two sites, focusing on smart farming, smart cities and environmental uses.
Third-ranked mobile operator DTAC is urging the government to develop a spectrum roadmap comprising high-, mid- and low-band spectrum with a clear allocation timeline for driving 5G adoption before launching commercial services.
"Collaboration is the key to success and a critical milestone in the roll-out of 5G in Thailand," said Alexandra Reich, chief executive of DTAC.
She said 5G technology needs much more collaboration from vertical industries through co-investing and co-innovation.
Unlike 4G adoption, which was mainly driven by the supply side, 5G adoption and roll-out requires huge investment costs for infrastructure development.
Ms Reich said DTAC has requested the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission's approval to conduct 5G trials and 4G-5G compatibility tests through several spectrum ranges. The ranges include 26GHz, 28GHz, 2300MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz.
Through the collaboration, TOT will test "smart poles" for a shared 5G smart city, while CAT Telecom plans to use 5G-equipped PM2.5 sensors to deal with air pollution, uploading air quality index readings to the cloud in real-time. DTAC plans to further develop real-time precision farming through 5G connected drones.
The smart farmer scheme uses Internet of Things (IoT) technology to enable farmers to access real-time information about their crops and adopt precision farming solutions using drones and satellites. These digital solutions are meant to produce higher yields and lower inputs.
Monchai Noosong, president of TOT, said smart poles can rapidly drive the expansion of the 5G network and digital infrastructure. It will help new service providers to enter the market fairly and equally.
Col Sanphachai Huvanandana, president of CAT Telecom, said IoT can be upgraded to massive IoT and support a higher density of connected devices, which can yield more accurate readings for air pollution detectors.
Although DTAC's 5G testing is starting later than rivals, leader Advanced Info Service and second-ranked True Move, Ms Reich said it is not too late for the nascent technology.
"5G testing is not just for marketing, but is needed to identify relevant applications and use cases," she said.
Ms Reich said there are three key prerequisites to 5G before launching commercial services: a clear spectrum roadmap; network-sharing development; and collaboration.