Telecom regulator neutral in tech trade war

Telecom regulator neutral in tech trade war

NBTC will seek US, Chinese 5G advice

Huawei's 5G Park in Shenzhen. Huawei agreed to work with the NBTC and Chulalongkorn University on a 5G test site. (Bloomberg photo)
Huawei's 5G Park in Shenzhen. Huawei agreed to work with the NBTC and Chulalongkorn University on a 5G test site. (Bloomberg photo)

The telecom regulator has established a neutral policy on the country's 5G development path, meaning it will avoid taking sides in the tech trade war between the US and China.

"We plan to attract both China's Huawei Technology and US-based vendors to help develop the infrastructure and testing centres required for 5G," said Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

Mr Takorn said the policy remains unchanged since the first 5G test centre in Bangkok was established earlier this year, with the NBTC's collaboration with Chulalongkorn University expected to lead to R&D of 5G technology.

The NBTC is establishing additional testing centres at Khon Kaen University, Chiang Mai University and Prince of Songkla University. The regulator is scheduled to sign memorandums of understanding with the three engineering faculties by this August.

The NBTC invited all major global vendors to collaborate on its 5G test framework, including Huawei, Intel, Cisco, Qualcomm and IBM.

Only Huawei has agreed to work with the NBTC and Chulalongkorn University on a test site, in addition to the three major mobile operators. Other vendors have yet to commit to a partnership.

Mr Takorn said 5G is on the government's national agenda, aiming to avoid late adoption of 5G as part of its 20-year digital transformation roadmap.

The 5G tech centres allow mobile operators as well as telecom vendors to trial and demonstrate 5G tech's effects on people's lifestyles and use cases in various other industries.

The move under the NBTC's framework is another effort by the government to promote 5G infrastructure investment, after the Digital Economy and Society Ministry recently announced an alliance for a 5G tech testbed to be located in the Eastern Economic Corridor.

Previously, Huawei invested US$5 million (160 million baht) in the 5G testbed at the Sri Racha campus of Kasetsart University, through a partnership with the Digital Economy Promotion Agency.

Mr Takorn said the 5G test centres in the additional three universities will help broaden trial development and research studies nationwide.

The NBTC expects collaboration with vendors and major operators in a similar arrangement to the 5G centre in Bangkok.

The regulator will allocate 26GHz of spectrum range for 5G test centres at the three universities, the same spectrum range used for the 5G centre in Bangkok.

"Each major university has different core goals for their 5G use case testing, such as Khon Kaen University, which has expressed an interest in developing the tech in the smart farming sector to increase productivity per farmer per rai," Mr Takorn said.

He said 5G test centre development is a critical mission in the NBTC's strategic plan of operations for 2019.


In March, two major mobile operators launched a collaboration of 5G development with Chulalongkorn University.

True Corporation established its 5G & Innovative Solution Centre through Truelab@ChulaEngineering at the university's engineering department.

The centre is located at Chamchuri Square. The two organisations have collaborated over the past eight years.

True Corp spent 20 million baht as an initial budget to renovate the building's space at the engineering faculty. The collaboration is operated under a 10-year initial agreement.

The centre is for learning and training, exhibiting relevant case studies, exchanging innovative ideas and sharing experiences in the form of open innovation, in which True will provide technical support, including equipment and devices, expertise and funds for researchers and students.

Meanwhile, Advanced Info Service cooperated with the engineering department at Chulalongkorn University to open the 5G Garage Innovation Lab for developers to innovate on the 5G Live network.

The lab consists of 5G tech information that will promote comprehensive basic knowledge from details about the 5G tech structure, network equipment and signal-receiving equipment, as well as examples of usage patterns or use cases that come from the cooperation of world-class equipment manufacturers, along with workshops to improve knowledge and technical expertise.

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