Thailand can more than double mobile and fixed broadband penetration and add $23 billion (THB730 billion) to its GDP by 2020 by implementing more effective spectrum and internet policies.
A GSMA study, conducted by Analysys Mason, claims that improved access to mobile infrastructure has the potential to increase broadband penetration to 133 per cent by 2020 from 52 per cent in 2013.
The report, “Building Thailand’s Digital Economy and Society”, outlines a number of policy and regulatory initiatives that are necessary to ensure mobile broadband develops successfully in Thailand.
“Mobile broadband is a critical enabler in achieving Thailand’s strong ambitions to turn the country into a digital economy and boost digital inclusion, as outlined in its Digital Economy Plan,” said GSMA chief regulatory officer Tom Phillips.
He said that realising the potential of mobile broadband in Thailand hinges on the release of spectrum for 4G, along with policies aimed at promoting a “competitive, dynamic, investment-led mobile sector”.
Top on the report’s list is the need to provide fair, transparent access to mobile spectrum by transitioning from a concession to a licensing regime. It recommends awarding available spectrum in the 900MHz and 1.8GHz bands at the earliest opportunity to expand 3G and 4G mobile services.
It called on the government to release the globally harmonised 700MHz ‘Digital Dividend’ band to mobile operators to expand coverage in urban and rural areas.
The report suggested that the government establishes a business-friendly environment and a level playing field with state-owned companies through transparent processes and stakeholder consultation to maximise the certainty of investment in technologies and services.
It also pointed to the need to guarantee the independence of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission by ensuring it is structurally and functionally separate from the government and operates with a clearly defined mandate.
“We encourage members of the Digital Economy Committee to consider the mobile sector as a critical enabler for the development of a vibrant digital economy and society,” Phillips said.