DTAC says 4G satisfies customer needs for now
CEO promises roll-out of 5G network in third quarter
Total Access Communication (DTAC), the country's third-largest mobile operator by subscribers, says it will take another two years before 5G is widely adopted in Thailand, and in the meantime customers are well served by the firm's existing 4G networks.
Speaking at a news conference yesterday, DTAC chief executive Sharad Mehrotra described 5G tech adoption as a marathon journey that needs time for use cases to gain ground.
He said the firm's 4G network with capacity tripled in high-traffic areas nationwide and backed by high-speed massive MIMO technology could efficiently serve customer demand with affordable and seamless digital services.
DTAC has yet to embark on 5G services, but it will roll out a 5G network on the 26-gigahertz range in selected areas and on the 700-megahertz range for industrial use cases linked with the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) in the third quarter, Mr Mehrotra said.
The use cases to be trialled in the EEC, through collaboration with partners, include smart video surveillance and fixed wireless access service.
According to Mr Mehrotra, the pandemic caused average monthly data consumption per user to grow by 44% from January to June, driven by the use of work-from-home apps like Zoom and MS Teams.
Redemption of DTAC reward privileges related to online shopping grew fivefold during the same period as shop closures pushed customers towards digital channels.
Data usage grew five times faster in the provinces than in Bangkok and is remaining high despite lockdown measures being eased -- a sign that many are choosing to stay in their hometowns rather than face joblessness in Bangkok.
Mr Mehrotra said 5G tech is still not for today, and what customers need now is "efficient high-speed broadband connectivity, good experience in seamless services and digital service care regardless of which cellular networks they use".
DTAC, through its subsidiary DTAC TriNet, won two licences for the 26GHz range at the 5G spectrum licence auctions on Feb 16. Each licence contains 100MHz of bandwidth.
The company also holds 10MHz of bandwidth each on the 900MHz and 1800MHz ranges, 10MHz of bandwidth on the 700MHz range and 30MHz of bandwidth on the 2100MHz range.
Despite occupying the least bandwidth among the three biggest telecom operators and lacking the 2600MHz range, the company will continue with its strategic move to embark on real 5G use cases through mobile handsets, Mr Mehrotra said.
DTAC will pursue nationwide densification of high-speed time division duplex (TDD) sites on the 2300MHz range through a partnership with state enterprise TOT, increasing the number of sites from 18,000 to more than 20,000 by this year.