Dtac, the third-largest operator in Thailand, joined forces with the country’s two state-owned operators TOT and CAT Telecom to launch 5G testbeds at two universities.

The tests, designed to share resources and knowledge between the three operators, are scheduled to start in July at Chulalongkorn University in downtown Bangkok and Kasetsart University’s Sriracha Campus in the province of Chonburi (100km southeast of Bangkok), dtac said in a statement.

Thailand’s telecoms regulator cleared dtac to conduct 5G trials using multiple spectrum bands including 28GHz, 3.5GHz, 2.3GHz and 1.8GHz (it operates 60MHz of 2.3GHz spectrum in a partnership agreement with TOT).

Network equipment will be provided by Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia.

In the first phase of the tests, dtac said it used 5G capabilities to improve its “smart farmer” service, which uses IoT technology to enable farmers to access real-time information and adopt precision techniques using drones and satellites.

The road forward
Alexandra Reich, dtac CEO (pictured, centre), said building a broad range of 5G use cases requires an equally wide range of spectrum, from to low- to mid- and high-band: “Before considering any further auctions, operators need to see a comprehensive spectrum roadmap and the conditions under which it will be made available. Well-managed auctions must ensure not only fairness but also a reasonable valuation of the spectrum.”

CAT Telecom president Sanpachai Huvanandana (pictured, left), said: “With the use of 5G networks, IoT can be upgraded to massive IoT and support a higher density of connected devices. In addition, all collected data from different areas can be processed and calibrated as big data on a cloud service.”

Monchai Noosong, TOT president (pictured, right), called for a central agency responsible for infrastructure like smart poles (which it is testing), to encourage network sharing and make the 5G rollout faster and more affordable.