AIS looks to leverage 5G network in EEC

AIS looks to leverage 5G network in EEC

Speedy broadband to enrich key sectors

Mr Somchai (centre) with AIS executive director Hui Weng Cheong (left) and vice-president Pratthana Leelapanang at the company's virtual conference. Zoom participants are shown in the background.
Mr Somchai (centre) with AIS executive director Hui Weng Cheong (left) and vice-president Pratthana Leelapanang at the company's virtual conference. Zoom participants are shown in the background.

Advanced Info Service is gearing up for 5G investment in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and applying AIS's ultra-fast mobile broadband network to key sectors as part of efforts to forge an economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic.

The key sectors include public health, industry, retail, tourism and those linked with sustainable development.

The country's biggest mobile operator by subscribers also revealed it would launch the nation's first 5G network slicing technology in July. The technology helps design a network of each layer with consistency and flexibility, including the characteristics of each kind of industry and each area.

Speaking on Thursday at a virtual conference to showcase AIS's network vision, chief executive Somchai Lertsutiwong said 5G infrastructure investment is critically needed to help the economy recover and to cater to digital development, which is evolving more quickly than expected because of the coronavirus crisis.

Corporations now need new business models to cope with the "new normal" features of their ecosystem, Mr Somchai said.

Although usage of telecom services in the first quarter surged 20% from the same period a year earlier, "the company's revenue still dropped 2-3% as a result of lockdown measures and lower purchasing power", he said.

AIS aims to contribute to digital infrastructure development through the 5G network ecosystem. The company is readying 5G investment in various sectors to enable the country's recovery.

First, AIS will support the 5G network as ICT infrastructure to enhance the management capability of the EEC in the ground, air and marine sectors.

In the EEC area, Amata Corporation, Saha Pathana Inter Holding and WHA Group have begun 5G testing under smart city initiatives.

BBS Joint Venture Group, co-investor in the U-tapao Airport Development Project and Eastern Aviation City, has kick-started the testing of 5G smart airport features.

5G testing has also been carried out by the Port Authority of Thailand in the Laem Chabang area.

Additionally, AIS is developing a 5G smart retail project with Central Group, including wealth distribution between the producer and the buyer.

The company also aims to apply 5G tech to public health via telemedicine and robot-assisted healthcare.

AIS has invested more than 1.1 trillion baht during the past 30 years in telecom development, including 230 billion baht for spectrum investment, Mr Somchai said.

He said the company is preparing to invest 35-40 billion baht to develop digital infrastructure this year. AIS has provided a 5G network in Bangkok and all 76 provinces since May.

"Previously, mass 5G adoption was expected to take shape in the next 2-3 years, but the crisis and digitalisation trend is now accelerating it," Mr Somchai said.

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