NBTC: Mass 5G adoption next year

NBTC: Mass 5G adoption next year

AWN and TUC install framework

The telecom regulator says the country's mass adoption of 5G could take place next year, one year ahead of its previous prediction, thanks to the 5G network roll-out and the launch of a series of 5G-enabled handsets, as well as new advanced apps and use cases.

Sutisak Tantayotin, deputy secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), said 5G network support is part of the agency's strategic plan for the telecom sector next year.

The agency set out the 2021 strategic plan by taking into account four core pillars: boosting 5G adoption, promoting a telecom infrastructure-sharing system, improving related regulations, as well as supporting data analytics for related research and regulation.

Mr Sutisak said the accelerated adoption of 5G is driven by the related network installation by Advanced Wireless Network (AWN) and True Move H Universal Communication (TUC).

The roll-out of 5G-compatible smartphones, including the iPhone 12, provides a further boost to adoption.

Some 5G-linked use cases have already been ushered in, especially those associated with public health services, fuelled by the pandemic. Industrial players have been studying 5G uses for their operations since the middle of 2020.

The 5G spectrum licence auction in February required those who won 2600-megahertz spectra to provide 5G network coverage for at least 50% of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) one year after the auction, by February 2021.

"We found the combined 5G network roll-out by AWN and TUC covers more than 70% of the EEC area," said Mr Sutisak.

The agency aims to facilitate 5G adoption among manufacturing, logistics, tourism and education sectors next year, he said.

According to Mr Sutisak, the NBTC is on schedule to complete the draft of the 3400-3700MHz auction framework by June 2021, prior to the expiry of a satellite-operating concession contract held by Thaicom in September 2021. Thaicom occupies the range.

The NBTC's technical team earlier indicated satellite signals are likely to interfere with mobile signal usage on the range and at least 100MHz of bandwidth should be set aside as a guard band.

The agency will continue to look into the best way to deal with the problem, he said.

The NBTC plans to step up efforts to ensure 5G network quality and related services across the country.

The NBTC office expects to amend the Telecom Business Act to better respond to the digital convergence system, as well as improve personal data protections in line with the Personal Data Protection Act, which are to be enforced starting next year, said Mr Sutisak.

The office wants to work with the Telecommunications Association of Thailand to support cybersecurity in the telecom sector through a new body called the Thailand Telecom Computer Emergency Response Team, he said.

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