The board of Thai state-owned fixed and mobile operator National Telecom (NT) has approved the first phase of investment in a 26GHz 5G network rollout project, with an initial outlay of THB800 million (USD22.6 million), the Bangkok Post reports.

NT was formed by the merger of state-owned sister telcos TOT and CAT Telecom in January 2021. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that in Thailand’s February 2020 multi-band 5G spectrum auction, TOT bid THB1.8 billion for four 100MHz blocks of 26GHz frequencies while CAT paid THB34.3 billion for two 2×5MHz blocks in the 700MHz range, and in February 2023 the government approved NT’s 5G business project and operational expenditure of THB6.7 billion to capitalise on the 26GHz spectrum range during the period until licence expiry in 2036. NT previously indicated aims of introducing 5G services in both the 700MHz and 26GHz bands by around Q4 2023, although the latest board announcement sets a target of March 2024 for completing the first phase of 26GHz network deployment.

NT’s president Sanphachai Huvanandana said that management will start drafting terms of reference for the 26GHz network procurement this month, with the procurement process expected to finish ‘by early next year’ ahead of expected readiness to provide services by March 2024. The telco has highlighted a focus on using the spectrum for fixed wireless services and private 5G campus networks for manufacturers, ports, logistics operators, airports and other enterprises.

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