Thailand’s battle for 5G is well and truly underway, with the country’s telecoms regulator raising an impressive $3.2 billion in 5G spectrum licences at an auction over the weekend, where 48 licences were bought by mobile operators ahead of the official 5G roll-out later in the year.
The biggest winner with 23 licences was Thailand’s top mobile operator, Advanced Info Service. And the licences spanned all three spectrum bands,with operators getting the opportunity to bid duri a five-hour bidding frenzy.
The country’s second and third-largest telecoms operators, True Corporation and Total Access Communication, bagged 17 and two licences respectively.
The National Telecom company, which consists of merged firms CAT Telecom and TOT, participated in the auctions for the first time, taking six licences.
Buying multiple bands
It was up to the mobile operators, which aspect of the spectrum they wanted to buy. And with the low-band spectrum unable to deliver speeds as fast as mmWave, but boasting better coverage, operators looking to provide the best service were required to bid on multiple licences.
“Thailand’s 5G technology is expected to help drive the economy by at least 177 billion baht this year, accounting for 1.02% of the country’s GDP,” said Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the NBTC, adding that he expected the value to nearly double in 2021.
And whilst 5G will cost a lot to install, the rewards could be huge in terms of profits. Mobile operators have already committed millions to get a decent share of the spectrum, because the potential, both in monetary terms, as well as broader 5G use cases, is likely to be orders of magnitude greater than 4G.