Call for superhighway to help move to 5G

Call for superhighway to help move to 5G

Upgrade needed for Thailand 4.0 arrival

Thailand urgently needs development of a digital information superhighway to support the transition in consumer lifestyles in the upcoming 5G era, says a key official.

Having a digital information superhighway can enhance the development of the country's digital ecosystem, leading to effective implementation of Thailand 4.0, said Digital Economy and Society (DE) Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj.

"Greater collaboration between the state and the private sector is needed to enable companies across all industries to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the proliferation of internet-based activities," Mr Pichet said yesterday at a seminar held by Total Access Communication (DTAC) entitled "Unlocking 5G Spectrum Towards Sustainable Thailand 4.0".

The 5G technology could provide data rates up to 100 times faster than 4G, and is expected to be commercially launched by 2020 in the global market. The technology will create opportunities for new uses of the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality and virtual reality applications, smart vehicles, remote healthcare, and robotics.

Mr Pichet said the government wants to see innovative ecosystems built into the digital infrastructure in the future to introduce value-based patterns into the economy.

Auto components, tourism, medical, trading and e-commerce are core competencies for economic development, he said.

DTAC chief executive Lars Norling said the importance of having a clear roadmap for mobile spectrum in place is essential to help industries prepare to embrace the 5G era.

"Thailand is embracing the emergence of 5G technology that is likely to completely reshape the overall standard of the country's high-speed wireless broadband Internet and consumers' everyday life," he said.

Without a clear spectrum roadmap, the reality of the success development of a digital economy will not come to fruition, Mr Norling said.

The GSM Association (GSMA), meanwhile, urged the Thai government to allocate the 2600-megahertz spectrum for mobile broadband purpose or 5G services within 2017. The spectrum is now used by MCOT Plc for broadcast service.

Emanuela Lecchi, head for public policy for Asia-Pacific of the GSMA, said a licence auction for the 2600MHz spectrum should take place within this year to ensure a smooth transition into 5G.

Ms Lecchi cited figures from several reports predicting that global mobile data traffic will increase from 2.6 exabytes per month in 2014 to 15.9EB per month in 2018.

The number of cellular IoT connections will reach 975 million in 2020, up from 142 million in 2012.

Ms Lecchi said the Thai regulator needs to develop a national roadmap for broadband spectrum for sustainable development of the industry.

A reform of legal frameworks governing data privacy and protection is also necessary to accommodate the transition of technologies, she said.

A study of the GSMA revealed that Thailand can increase mobile broadband penetration to 133% by 2020 from 52% in 2013, which would lead to a cumulative GDP increase of US$23 billion by 2020.

Prawit Leesathapornwongsa, a commissioner of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commissioner, said the imminent arrival of 5G technology can be expected to reshape the economy and society.

Not only the state and private sectors, he said, but people also need to understand and prepare themselves to benefit from 5G technology, rather than just streaming videos.

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