NBTC: 5G upgrade requires massive outlay

NBTC: 5G upgrade requires massive outlay

Mr Takorn presides over the auction for 700MHz spectrum on June 19, 2019. Pornprom Satrabhaya
Mr Takorn presides over the auction for 700MHz spectrum on June 19, 2019. Pornprom Satrabhaya

Telecom operators may need to spend 200-300 billion baht each to change their network equipment for 5G technology, says the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the NBTC, said he invited various players in the telecom industry for talks last week about steps to make 5G technology available in Thailand by late next year. The parties ranged from licensed telecom operators to internet providers, importers and producers of IT devices.

The operators pointed out they need to invest a huge amount of money to transfer from 4G to 5G technology if the government and the NBTC aims to have 5G be adopted completely within the given time frame, Mr Takorn said.

"Operators need to completely change their network equipment," he said.

"Each operator may need to invest at least 200-300 billion baht, excluding expenses from spectrum auctions and 5G service."

Yet Mr Takorn insisted 5G technology would be a boon for the industrial sector, where manufacturers can make use of the technology to undergo production restructuring.

He said 5G network equipment is expected to be ready by the middle of next year at the earliest.

"The change from 2G to 3G was from analogue to digital, while the change from 3G to 4G is seen as a top-up. But the change from 4G to 5G is a major transformation that requires a lot of investment," said Mr Takorn.

"This is a whole new world of communication and connectivity."

The NBTC needs to heed all the players in the industry to make sure 5G technology can get off ground and operators survive financially, he said.

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