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