Huawei Thailand is investing 475 million baht to establish a 5G ecosystem innovation centre at the Digital Economy Promotion Agency's (Depa) headquarters to research 5G use cases and incubate 100 local small and medium-sized enterprises and startups for three years.
The centre is a partnership with the Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry and Depa to find new ways to use 5G across industries.
"This is an important milestone demonstrating the readiness of Thailand to be a digital hub in Asean by utilising 5G technologies to improve economic and social development," DES minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta said yesterday at the opening ceremony.
"The pandemic is a turning point for the digital economy globally and Thailand plays a role in the social and economic development of countries' recovery."
Mr Buddhipongse said 5G commercial service will be available nationwide in the next few months.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also assigned the DES to make 5G services available to everyone to reduce inequality and create equal opportunity. 5G-enabled smartphones currently cost upwards of 31,000 baht.
"This is why we asked CAT and TOT to participate in 5G bidding," Mr Buddhipongse said.
In October the national 5G committee led by the prime minister is scheduled to hold a meeting to encourage state agencies to embrace 5G use cases.
"We are considering a roll-out of smart agriculture in the Northeast and South after deploying 5G in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, as well as considering privileges for various sectors to adopt 5G to reduce expenses," he said. "Thailand is open to other technology leaders in every area, not just from China."
Abel Deng, chief executive of Huawei Thailand, said Huawei is continuing to drive Thailand 4.0 by investing in the innovation centre, which includes equipment and expert training.
"The 5G ecosystem innovation centre in Thailand is the first such launch in Asean," he said.
The centre will serve as a sandbox for development of digital innovations and proof of concepts for 5G applications and services across various industries in Thailand. It is also expected to incubate 100 startups in three years.
The centre features smart healthcare, agriculture, education, smart poles, smart ports, smart homes, smart security and an RF shield room (for developers to work in a 5G signal environment).
"Innovation in 5G can help fight against pandemics, boosting the economy and long-term growth for Thailand," Mr Deng said.
Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin, president and chief executive of Depa, said the agency is open to collaborating with mobile operators and technology vendors to support innovation in Thailand's startup ecosystem.
Huawei's 5G ecosystem innovation centre will support testbed, technology transfer and training to leverage use of the 5G ecosystem. Depa aims to do business matching with startups, train 500 workers per year and develop at least 20 innovations, said Mr Nuttapon.
"5G is a digital infrastructure, but it will be more useful to leverage artificial intelligence, big data and the Internet of Things," he said.