Envision if you will, a world where one significant strain of communication bandwidth is devoted solely to the development of cutting-edge private 5G networks. This is the scenario currently in the sights of Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC)— a game-changer not only for telecom operators but also industries and enterprises across the board.
Imagine the enticing prospect of being privy to your own segment of a telecom behemoth. NBTC is contemplating dedicating a 100MHz section from the hearty 400MHz bandwidth on the mighty 3500-megahertz band for this very purpose. The objective being to encourage the proliferation of private 5G networks for vertical industries — a potentially revolutionary move for the technological landscape of the southeast Asian nation.
This groundbreaking proposal is hinging on open-ended dialogues between NBTC, a selection of telecom operators and vendors, and organizations like the Federation of Thai Industries and Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand. As per NBTC commissioner, Somphop Purivigraipong, the official nod might be granted towards the end of 2022 or early 2025.
A key brainstorming session involved Somphop discussing with telecom networks and vendors, such as United Information Highway, Symphony, and ALT Telecom Co. The commissioner highlighted the need for prudent deliberation about the best way to distribute this precious bandwidth allocation. Importantly, the intent is not simply to distribute it among the highest bidders, but in a way that aligns with the goal of fostering a tailwind for 5G tech in vertical industries.
The framework for allocation is such that it leans towards small and medium-sized suppliers or industrial estate operators and entities nestled within industrial estates. The ultimate aim is to ease the roll-out of 5G private networks, regardless of the level of collaboration during the implementation of these network solutions.
In an era where auctions often dictate the distribution of resources, Somphop makes a stand against this method for allocating the dedicated 5G network. The steep investment needed is viewed as a potential roadblock to the nurturing and growth of this promising new network. Instead, an intriguing revenue-sharing model has been proposed, with licensees granted a grace period, and license fees paid to the NBTC on a revenue-sharing basis after that period or upon hitting a break-even point in operations.
While the door is open for major mobile phone operators to partake in this allocation process, the spotlight is firmly fixed on the industry’s 5G private network. The idea is to carve up the 100MHz stretch into multiple licenses with an understanding that major operators will not use these licenses to offer mobile services to the broad consumer market or for roaming with their existing 2600MHz allocation secured in 2020, as per a report by Bangkok Post.
With the focus on reducing spectrum costs for the allocated portion, the NBTC looks to stimulate 5G adoption across Thailand. Somphop notes the technology’s full potential is not being exploited just yet in the mass market, with usage often limited to video streaming and supporting 4G service. Concurrently, the NBTC is meticulously planning a roadmap for the unoccupied portion of the 3500MHz band in tandem with the 850MHz, 2100MHz, and 2300MHz spectrums. Watch this space —exciting times lie ahead!