SET-listed Advanced Info Service (AIS), Thailand's biggest mobile operator by subscriber base, has partnered with Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE Corporation to launch the country's first hub for 5G innovation and solutions, called 5G A-Z Center.
The move is meant to support new solutions that can cater to the needs of the industrial sector, foster innovation and create 5G industry applications. It also supports AIS's goal of becoming a cognitive telco by 2024.
The two firms also plan to launch co-branded devices, including mobile broadband routers and 5G smartphones at affordable prices, marking the first cooperation between AIS and a smartphone vendor in terms of co-branding.
AIS chief executive Somchai Lertsutiwong said ZTE is strategic partnership to develop the the country's first ever hub for 5G innovation that could create a competitive advantage, lifting the country to stand at the forefront on the global stage.
The two parties signed a memorandum of understanding for strategic partnership to develop 5G tech, with the goal of fostering innovation and, in particular, digital infrastructure which supports the industrial sector.
The strategic partnership with ZTE has three components.
First, it will upgrade Thailand's 5G network to world-class digital infrastructure, not only in terms of speed, but also intelligence, controlling itself in real time (5G smart autonomous network).
It is prototyping network tech which will transform the development of the 5G network in Thailand.
Second, the two parties will jointly develop solutions for the business sector, for industry and for the wider public, and enhance competitive capabilities under the Thailand 4.0 policy.
Finally, the collaboration will deliver a vast range of 5G services to improve people's lives sustainably.
"The first 5G A-Z Center in Thailand is a transformative moment to unlock Thailand's potential and take the country to the next level, focusing on business and industry", Mr Somchai said.
Xu Ziyang, president of ZTE Corporation, said the establishment of the centre will usher in a diverse range of tech innovation.
Taking the 5G network as a basis for research and development has resulted in brand-new use cases for the future which will cater to both customer demand and increasing business opportunities.
"5G A-Z Center has installed base stations providing every radio frequency spectrum for the purpose of experimentation and trial," Mr Xu said.
The 5G use cases through collaboration include natural navigation AGV, an autonomous vehicle with an embedded 5G module accepting a 5G SIM card, and 5G machine vision, a system for physical product inspection using 5G.
AIS chief of consumer business Pratthana Leelapanang said AIS will launch co-branded products connected to the 5G network to market for the first time with ZTE, including mobile broadband routers and 5G smartphones.
Especially for 5G smartphones, the company will focus on entry models to expand mass 5G adoption in the market with the most affordable price.
Currently, 5G users in the overall market account for around 8 million subscribers, half of them accessing via AIS's 5G network, he said. AIS targets its 5G subscribers to reach 5 million by the end of this year.