Thailand looking to accelerate Industry 4.0 with 5G innovation
- Thailand’s digital ministry and Huawei Thailand have established Southeast Asia’s first 5G innovation center, aiming to prep local SMEs for 5G innovation
Thailand is vigorously chasing its ambitions of transforming into a digital hub in Southeast Asia (SEA). Its latest federally-funded initiative will look to boost 5G-propelled innovations in the country, by developing ecosystem partnerships and building out the local digital economy.
That is the aim of the newly-opened Thailand 5G Ecosystem Innovation Center (5G EIC) in Bangkok, located at the Digital Economy Promotion Agency’s (Depa) headquarters to research 5G use cases and incubate 100 local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups for three years.
The innovation center will look to cultivate the development of 5G-based applications and services across a swath of industries in Thailand. Depa is working with the Thailand Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES), and together they are hoping to nurture new business opportunities driven by 5G, not just for SMEs and startups but educational institutions as well.
“Thailand takes a crucial step toward moving into a new socio-economic era. Thailand is among the first countries in ASEAN to be on track to adopt 5G technology, which not only offers innovative services and seamless experiences but is also reshaping all industries toward digitalization. This is one of the Prime Minister’s and the government’s greatest priorities,” announced Digital Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta, at the opening ceremony of the 5G EIC last week in Bangkok.
Thailand became the first SEA nation with a commercial 5G rollout earlier this year when the kingdom’s two biggest telco operators introduced 5G networks at over 150 hospitals throughout the country. 5G’s attributes of high speeds and low network latencies were used to connect medical tech initially during the first wave of the coronavirus, like delivery robots and quarantine telemedicine equipment, helping to reduce direct contact risks between doctors and patients.
Since then, 5G coverage has been made available in other urban parts of Thailand, and the minister Buddhipongse told the Bangkok Post that 5G commercial service will be available nationwide in the next few months.
Technology partner Huawei Thailand has also invested 475 million baht in the 5G EIC, and the commitment will include the provision of Huawei’s 5G equipment and solutions, as well as support in incubating the local SMEs and startups to be adept at 5G solutions while they are at the EIC.
Developing a 5G-ready business environment is part of the Thai government’s Thailand 4.0 national digital transformation play emerging as a cutting-edge digital hub in the Asia Pacific, and to that end is ramping up the digital infrastructure in the country, including investing in a low earth orbit (LEO) satellite and expanding its submarine cable capacities.
Some of the technology-driven fields that 5G can make a substantial contribution is in monitoring and tracking, maintenance, smart surveillance, augmented reality, connected vehicles, remote operations, and autonomous robotics. Many of those fields will leverage the Internet of Things (IoT), as the connectivity and reliability of smart IoT devices will be greatly enhanced on a reliable 5G network.
Huawei Thailand has been a key tech partner and 5G ecosystem driver in the kingdom, with Huawei Thailand chief executive Abel Deng saying his firm will continue to drive Thailand 4.0 by investing in the innovation center, including supplying equipment and expert training.
Dr. 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, and to that end has launched the Thailand 5G Ecosystem Partnership Alliance.
“Depa’s mission is to drive Thailand towards the digital economy. Thailand 5G EIC will bring together an international alliance network to drive Thailand’s digital innovations in the long run. Therefore, the collaboration between Depa and global leading companies like Huawei in establishing 5G EIC will greatly enrich the ecosystem,” said Dr. Nimmanphatcharin.
Huawei Thailand CEO Deng commented that the 5G EIC marks an important milestone for the development of 5G in Thailand, but also in SEA. “It is a great honor for us to be one of the initiators and the main partner of the visionary project,” he concluded. “Huawei is fully committed to nurture the 5G ecosystem and support the Thailand 4.0 initiative with global leading experiences and resources.”