State-owned Thai operator National Telecom (NT) cleared the final hurdle to progressing a long-anticipated 5G deployment on 26GHz spectrum, with its board approving a project expected to be completed in March 2024, Bangkok Post reported.

The THB800 million ($22.8 million) rollout is the first phase of a wider network plan. The government in February approved a budget of THB6.7 billion for NT, covering capex and opex.

NT is targeting the enterprise segment with the mmWave network, focusing on state agencies, hospitals, educational institutions and businesses in the Eastern Economic Corridor, a special zone spanning three provinces in eastern Thailand, Bangkok Post wrote.

The state enterprise was established in 2021 through a merger of CAT Telecom and TOT, which acquired 400MHz of 26GHz spectrum in a 5G auction in early 2020 with a 14-year licence.

NT provides mobile services in the 850MHz, 2100MHz and 2300MHz bands and plans to partner with AIS to offer 5G service in the 700MHz band.

CAT Telecom acquired two 5MHz blocks of the airwaves in auction.

Data from GSMA Intelligence showed NT added more than 500,000 mobile connections in the year to end June, for a total of 2.2 million.

True Corp recently merged with dtac and had 50.5 million connections at end-June, and AIS 46.6 million.