Thailand expected to see major 5G growth

Thailand expected to see major 5G growth

Planned merger seen boosting investment

Thailand's revenue from 5G technology is predicted to reach US$41 billion by 2030, while almost half of mobile subscribers are expected to have access to the fifth-generation service by 2027, according to Swedish telecom giant Ericsson.

Meanwhile, the planned merger of telecom operators True Corporation Plc and Total Access Communication Plc (DTAC) is likely to generate both challenges and opportunities for the new entity and a decline in service choices for customers.

"Thailand's 5G adoption is still in its early stages but the country has seen the vibrant market, high consumer expectation, high demand and fast growth in 5G tech," said Igor Maurell, newly appointed head of Ericsson Thailand.

"We are going to see immense uptake in the next few years, supported by affordable 5G devices and innovative applications."

He said Thailand has advanced 5G infrastructure, with 3 million 5G subscribers.

As the next step, the country is likely to push for standalone 5G architecture for the service, he said.

According to Mr Maurell, after the merger of DTAC and True, the new company could enjoy lower network costs.

The market would see only two major players in the market -- the merged entity and Advanced Info Service (AIS). They will compete head-to-head and accelerate investment in the market.

However, customers would have more of a limited choice in their services, Mr Maurell said.

In 2030, Thailand's 5G-supported revenue could be around $41 billion, compared with $700 billion globally, said Mr Maurell.

Industries that could leverage 5G technology for digitalisation include automotive, energy, utilities, healthcare and manufacturing.

The development of cloud gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality and the metaverse also requires a strong network infrastructure.

Citing the latest Ericsson Mobility Report, Mr Maurell said 5G subscribers in Southeast Asia and Oceania are expected to account for 45% of total mobile users by 2027.

"Thailand is likely to be on a par with the prediction in the region by 2027. The country is in quite an advanced tier in the region," he said.

Mr Maurell said 5G will become the dominant major technology over the next five years, and research development into 6G is already underway.

Asean and the Oceania region will see data traffic per smartphone growing at the fastest rate globally, increasing sixfold to 46 gigabytes per month by 2027 -- a compound annual growth rate of 34% from 2021 to 2027. The region has seen data traffic per smartphone at 8GB this year.

In this region, 5G subscriptions are expected to hit 15 million at the end of this year and 560 million in 2027.

Globally, 5G subscriptions are projected to reach 660 million by the end of 2021 and 4.4 billion by 2027.

More than two billion people will be covered by 5G networks by the end of 2021.

This year's rapid 5G adoption rate has been driven by stronger-than-expected demand in China and North America, as well as falling prices of 5G devices.

According to the report, 5G is expected to account for around 50% of all mobile subscriptions worldwide by 2027 -- covering 75% of the world's population and carrying 62% of the global smartphone traffic.

"Thailand has one of the world's most active internet populations," Mr Maurell added. "When it comes to industries and enterprises, Thailand is one of the key regional industrial hubs with a number of potential businesses looking to modernise their operations with 5G technology. My view is that it is pivotal that the country needs to build a programmable, secure and efficient 5G network."

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