AIS LED advertising in Thai train station. AIS is the country’s biggest carrier. Source: Shutterstock

Thailand network operators invest $3.2B to secure 5G spectrum licenses

Businesses and consumers in Thailand have a lot to look forward to in the coming days as the country’s network regulators have managed to raise over US$3.2 billion in a recent 5G spectrum auction.

The amount raised signifies that both the regulators and operators are well-aware of the potential that 5G possesses and the necessity to endorse actions in rolling it out as fast as they can —officials believe that the fifth-generation network deployment will fuel the country’s digital economy.

According to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) secretary-general Takorn Tantasith, “Thailand’s 5G technology is expected to help drive the economy by at least 177 billion baht this year, accounting for 1.02 percent of the country’s GDP.” Tantasith also believes that the value will likely double by 2021.

Network operators have reportedly secured 48 licenses during the five-hour-long auction which was held on February 16. During the auction, operators bid for licenses to transmit 5G signals over the high, mid or low spectrum bands.

Twenty-six licenses for the 26-GHz high-band spectrum were offered that day. Operators like AIS won 12 of the licenses followed by True Corporation who won 8, TOT with 4 and DTAC with 2.

Altogether, these operators invested a total of US$372 million to win the high band licenses. They are also expected to settle all payments within a year. Licenses for the 2600-MHz mid-band spectrum were won by AIS and True as each secured a total of 10 and 9 licenses respectively. About US$1.2 billion was raised from this auction alone.

Last but not least, a total of US$1.65 billion was collected after 20 rounds of bidding that lasted over three hours, in order to secure the low-band 700-MHz spectrum licenses. CAT telecom won two of the licenses while AIS secured one. The government has ruled out that the operators who won the licenses for the mid and low-band spectrums must settle payment over a 10-year period.

True Corporation seems to emerge as the biggest winner of the auction, as it bagged 17 licenses in total.

It seems like the country really means business when it comes to rolling out 5G which is set to happen somewhere later this year. With the advanced cellular technology, the world can expect to see greater digital initiatives being pushed forward by the country as the technology is set to enable a wide range of intelligent advances. Businesses can look forward to working with the winning operators to host 5G capabilities and experience unprecedented networking speed.

In other developments, Thailand also plans to bolster its overall economic standpoint and digital payment landscape by leveraging QR technology.