AIS teamed with Chinese vendor ZTE to establish a 5G innovation centre in Thailand, as part of a wider cooperation agreement aimed at modernising the operator’s mobile networks.

In a joint statement, ZTE noted the agreement covers completing a hub for joint 5G research in the third quarter, claiming a first in Thailand, and upgrading the operator’s 5G network by using big data and AI to add autonomous network management capabilities.

AIS CEO Somchai Lertsutiwong said the strategic partnership brings the potential for its investments to “deliver a wide variety of experiences and smart services” to customers and a range of industrial sectors.

AIS, the largest operator in the country with 44.6 million subscribers, added more than 2 million 5G subscribers year-on-year to end March with 2.8 million, accounting for 6.3 per cent of its total user base.

It deployed around 20,000 5G base stations across all 77 provinces, taking coverage to 78 per cent of the population. It aims to increase that to 85 per cent by the end of the year.

At the end of March, AIS worked with ZTE and Qualcomm to conduct a field trial of new radio dual connectivity using 100MHz carrier in the 2.6GHz band and four 200MHz carriers in the 26GHz band, achieving a downlink data rate of 8.5Gb/s.

The operator launched a commercial 5G service in February 2020 on 2.6GHz spectrum.