Thailand to reach 5G coverage of 85% by end-2022

Thai operators will provide 5G to nearly 10 million subscribers by the end of the year

BANGKOK, THAILAND- Thailand is expected to end this year with a 5G coverage of over 85% of the country’s population, local carrier True’s Co-Chief Commercial Officer, Tanaphon Manavutiveth, said.

During a keynote presentation at Huawei’s 13th Global Mobile Broadband Forum (MBBF) being held this week in Bangkok, Thailand, the executive said that Thai operators will provide 5G to nearly 10 million subscribers by the end of the year.

In his presentation, Manavutiveth said that the rapid adoption of 5G in Thailand is chiefly driven by the early release of 5G spectrum, fast network rollout by local telcos, and 5G device availability in the local market as well as the support by the local government.

He noted that that shipments of 5G devices are accounting for 15% to the total, up from 5% last year.

The executive also said that True currently provides an extensive 5G coverage in the country’s 77 provinces. He added that the telco currently owns spectrum in seven different bands including 700 MHz, 850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz, 2.6 GHz and 26 GHz.

Citing statistics from the GSMA, the executive said that Thailand has one of the highest penetration rates of 5G in the ASEAN region, with 9.2% only behind Singapore, with 13.9%

Last week, Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) approved the merger of True and rival telco DTAC. However, despite the official approval for the merger, a Thai consumer group and the country’s opposition political party have filed legal proceedings against it, even accusing the commission itself of corruption in the process.

The merger, first announced in 2021, would consolidate Thai telecom down to two major players: AIS, the current market leader, and the merged True/DTAC entity once consolidated. AIS currently calls about 44% of Thailand’s mobile subscriber base its customers. True has 34% market share, and DTAC brings up the rear with another 21%. True is backed by Thailand’s largest private company, Charoen Pokphand, as well China Mobile. DTAC is almost half-owned by Telenor, the state-controlled telco of Norway. Combined, the $7+ billion company will have 55% of the nation’s mobile subscribers.

Within hours of the NBTC announcing its decision, consumer advocacy group Thailand Consumers Council (TCC) announced that it would ask courts to stop the merger. The TCC said it will file an administrative court injunction to stop the merger. The merger news has also earned the ire of the Move Forward Party, the country’s opposition political party.

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