NBTC forecasts B150bn in 4G investment

NBTC forecasts B150bn in 4G investment

A speed test for 4G wireless service is shown at Mobile Expo 2016. More capacity from mobile infrastructure is needed as mobile data usage demand soars. Pawat Laopaisarntaksin
A speed test for 4G wireless service is shown at Mobile Expo 2016. More capacity from mobile infrastructure is needed as mobile data usage demand soars. Pawat Laopaisarntaksin

Mobile operators are expected to invest at least 150 billion baht on fourth generation (4G) network expansion by 2018, said the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

Thailand is in dire need of increased capacity from mobile infrastructure to serve skyrocketing demand for mobile data usage, driven mainly by the popularity of video streaming and machine-to-machine communication or the Internet of Things (IoT).

Col Settapong Malisuwan, the NBTC's vice-chairman, said each mobile operator would need to invest 25 billion baht annually to expand their wireless broadband infrastructure.

He said operators needed greater speeds for mobile network facilities and greater information-carrying capacity to accommodate changes in demographics and consumer lifestyles, especially in terms of how wireless internet influences the way consumers live, work and play.

Col Settapong noted the popularity of live streaming video, mobile gaming, mobile advertising and cloud computing to underscore the changes.

Increased adoption of the IoT is expected to significantly boost the use of mobile data across various industrial sectors next year.

Col Settapong said the number of active mobile subscriptions in Thailand is 103 million, a figure that is expected to increase to 170 million by 2017.

He said the 4G spectrum auctions could stimulate direct and indirect investment, valued at 1.3 trillion baht, by 2020.

The development is also expected to transform Thailand into an internet-empowered economy and add impetus to the country becoming an Asean digital infrastructure hub by 2020.

Col Settapong acknowledged, however, that development of new frameworks is needed to regulate the performance of mobile services to ensure public benefit.

The NBTC is on the verge of setting a single tariff ceiling for both 3G and 4G wireless broadband services in a bid to make mobile services affordable for all.

A single ceiling rate of below 69 satang a minute for voice service and below 26 satang per megabyte for internet usage is expected to take effect by September.

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