THAI­LAND SPOT­LIGHT

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With con­do­lences to the peo­ple of Thai­land flooding in fol­low­ing the death of his majesty King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej, Ca­pac­ity takes time to re­flect on the Thai tele­coms mar­ket as the coun­try em­barks on a one-year pe­riod of mourn­ing.

While the coun­try has ben­e­fit­ted and grown from a lib­er­alised tele­coms sec­tor over the last few years, govern­ment plans are afoot to in­vest 10bn baht ($285m) to im­prove the na­tion’s telecom in­fra­struc­ture. This is part of its dig­i­tal econ­omy strat­egy which aims to dou­ble Thai­land’s in­ter­net-con­nected pop­u­la­tion to 40 mil­lion users by 2018.

As we go to press, the Thai govern­ment wants TOT and CAT Telecom to up­grade their data cen­tres as part of a na­tional data cen­tre e-govern­ment pro­ject. TOT and CAT would be given the re­spon­si­bil­ity of stor­ing sen­si­tive and im­por­tant data for state agen­cies, ac­cord­ing to Sak Segkhoonthod, pres­i­dent and CEO of Thai­land’s Elec­tronic Govern­ment Agency (EGA).

The coun­try’s min­istry of dig­i­tal econ­omy and so­ci­ety has asked EGA to sub­mit its pro­pos­als for up­grad­ing TOT and CAT’S ex­ist­ing data cen­tres to na­tional data cen­tres by the end of 2016. Both pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tions will be able to rent space on the TOT and CAT data cen­tres, said Sak.

Data cen­tres will be ex­panded in a fiveyear pro­ject start­ing from 2017, though the num­ber of data cen­tres will be re­duced to 200, he added.

Ac­cord­ing to The Bangkok Post, CAT has 2,000 racks of servers distributed across 500 square me­tres. Half of these racks are op­er­ated by the new­est data cen­tre in Non­thaburi II, which was launched in 2015, said the pa­per, quot­ing the CAT pres­i­dent San­pachai Hu­vanan­dana.

In Septem­ber, Thai­land’s reg­u­la­tor the Na­tional Broad­cast­ing and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion (NBTC) drafted a five-year “master plan” for the tele­coms in­dus­try fo­cused on pro­mot­ing new tech­nolo­gies and in­fra­struc­ture shar­ing among op­er­a­tors.

The coun­try’s cur­rent master plan is due to ex­pire on April 3, 2017, and NBTC has be­gun dis­cus­sions with tele­coms li­cence-hold­ers and con­sumer groups on the new draft, which it ex­pects to un­veil some­time in Novem­ber this year.

The new plan will con­tain reg­u­la­tions to ac­com­mo­date new tech­nolo­gies, such as 5G, and mea­sures aimed at pro­mot­ing fur­ther mar­ket com­pe­ti­tion, ac­cord­ing to the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion pol­icy Suti­sak Tan­tiyothin.

Thai­land’s sec­ond largest mo­bile op­er­a­tor DTAC took part in a meet­ing held with the reg­u­la­tor, in which the Te­lenor-owned firm urged NBTC to set a time­frame for a new spec­trum auc­tion.

The cur­rent draft of the master plan lists when ex­ist­ing spec­trum will be re­leased from its cur­rent li­cense hold­ers, but does not pro­vide any spe­cific auc­tion dates.

By 2025, there will be 865MHZ band­width avail­able for mo­bile phone ser­vices. This is com­pared with 420MHZ which has been made avail­able only this year.

Ear­lier this year, the coun­try’s lead­ing op­er­a­tor AIS, which has a mar­ket share of 45%, switched on com­mer­cial voice-overlte (VOLTE) ser­vices across all 77 prov­inces in the coun­try. AIS also con­tracted Al­ca­tel-lu­cent to de­ploy a 100G op­ti­cal trans­port net­work.

Whether the coun­try’s pe­riod of mourn­ing, ac­com­pa­nied by the cur­rent 30-day ban on “en­ter­tain­ment”, will have an ef­fect on the coun­try’s grow­ing tele­coms mar­ket re­mains to be seen.

How­ever, what is clear is that the mood in the coun­try is som­bre in­deed, par­tic­u­larly with po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tain­ties that linger as Thai­land faces its first royal tran­si­tion in more than 70 years.

Thai­lands’ reg­u­la­tor has drafted a ‘master plan’ based on shar­ing and part­ner­ing

Sak Segkhoonthod: Has an­nounced an am­bi­tious data cen­tre up­grade plan

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