Thailand - Country Commercial Guide
Telecommunications

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-08-15

Overview

The Thai government aims to become an ASEAN digital infrastructure hub and transform the country into a digital economy. According to the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), adopting 5G could contribute $5.9 billion to the economy or one percent of GDP in 2020. The 5G market is expected to increase to $15.9 billion in 2022 (data before pandemic).

Thailand was the first country in Southeast Asia to launch commercial 5G services. On February 16, 2020, the three major mobile operators and two state telecom agencies bid a combined of $3.2 billion at an auction for the spectrum required to set up 5G infrastructure. Thailand’s top mobile operator, Advanced Info Service (AIS), emerged as the biggest winner, with 23 licenses across all three spectrum bands in the auction. The country’s second- and third-largest telecom operators, TRUE Corporation and Total Access Communication, received 17 and two licenses, respectively. Regarding state-run agencies, CAT Telecom and TOT (which will merge as the National Telecom (NT) company) took part in a spectrum auction for the first time and won six licenses combined. The 5G auction in February was summarized in three spectrum categories as below.

  • 700-megahertz (MHz) spectrum: CAT - 2 licenses and AIS - 1 license
  • 2600 – MHz spectrum: AIS - 10 licenses and TRUE - 9 licenses
  • 26 – GHz spectrum: AIS - 12 licenses, TRUE - 8 licenses, TOT - 4 licenses, and DTAC - 2 licenses

Thailand had 90.6 million unique mobile subscribers, which represents a penetration rate of approximately 130 percent of the total population. The market is dominated by three longstanding mobile network operators (MNOs): AIS, True, and DTAC.

In the mid- and long-term telecommunication national plan, the “National 5G Committee” was created to ensure support from the government for 5G development with a goal of five percent of 5G adoption by 2022 and 80 percent by 2027. The Royal Thai Government is benchmarking its Action Plan against the following 5G development goals:

  1. 5G network speeds of at least 50 Mbps everywhere and 100 Mbps in urban areas, covering 98% of the population, including the entire area of all zones declared as the Special Economic Promotional Zones within the EEC, as well as all residents in the Smart Cities;
  2. Adoption of 5G technology in vertical industries increasing the GDP by at least 7%;
  3. The number of enterprises utilizing 5G technology for their business operations of at least 10,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which is equivalent to 2% of SMEs;
  4. At least 700,000 people can receive remote medical diagnostic and consultation from experts leveraging the capabilities of 5G technology;
  5. At least 700,000 students at the basic educational level can access digital education services leveraging the capabilities of 5G technology;
  6. Every Smart City must adopt at least six 5G use cases per city;
  7. At least 70% of the digital workforce equipped with the appropriate 5G-related skills that cater to industrial needs; and,
  8. 5G mobile adoption rate covers at least 80% to 90% of the population.

According to the NBTC, Thailand’s telecom market value is expected to fall approximately two percent in 2021, pressured by the pandemic and the economic slowdown. The pandemic-induced lockdown also caused the delay of network equipment installation. The telecom operators remain cautious about 5G network investment. However, the telecommunication sector is a key foundation and driver for the national development plan. As such, the investment in telecom infrastructure and equipment is expected to rebound to the same level before the pandemic in 2022.

Thailand’s Telecommunication Sector Equipment (Millions USD)

 

2019

2020

2021 (est)

2022 (est)

Total Local Production

7,261

7,327

7,248

7,392

Total Exports

1,650

1,691

1,724

1,758

Total Imports

2,640

2,651

2,597

2,648

Imports from the US

 

264

282

276

281

Total Market Size

8,251

8,287

8,121

8,283

Exchange Rates

31

31

31

31

(total market size = (total local production + imports) – exports)
Source: NBTC

Leading Sub-Sectors

  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Mobile Security and Solutions
  • Cloud Computing
  • Telecommunication Infrastructure
  • Network Management

Opportunities

Thailand endeavors to become ASEAN’s digital infrastructure hub as it implements the government’s “Thailand 4.0” policy. As a result, the telecommunications business is a significant driver for national projects. In general, this upgrade to 5G has the potential to enable Industry 4.0 and support new services that will, in turn, stimulate economic growth and job creation in Thailand.

Telecommunication products and technologies from America are well known, and America is also known for its high adoption rate of new advanced technologies, including Internet of Things (IoT), wearable technology, autonomous/connected cars. The reliable and fast connectivity required for these technologies is addressed by 5G and high growth opportunities can be expected.

The major players in the 5G infrastructure market are Huawei (China), Ericsson (Sweden), Samsung (South Korea), Nokia Networks (Finland), ZTE (China), NEC (Japan), CISCO (US), CommScope (US), Comba Telecom Systems (Hong Kong), Alpha Networks (Taiwan), Siklu Communication (Israel), and Mavenir (US).