LIVE FROM HUAWEI MBB FORUM, BANGKOK: Thai operators AIS and True Corp predicted uptake of 5G services to gain momentum after the prices of compatible handsets recently dropped to below $200.

Lower-priced models from Samsung and Xiaomi were launched last month.

Saran Phaloprakarn, head of Mobile and Consumer Products at AIS explained 5G devices were costly in the country in the past as the only model available was the iPhone 12.

He believes the wider choice of models, together with subsidies from operators, will drive mass adoption of 5G services. From the customers’ perspective, the main value currently in the service is “a faster 4G”.

To maximise the full potential of 5G services, including low latency and network slicing, Phaloprakarn said it was considering deploying mmWave spectrum next year once compatible handsets are available.

Since the investment is huge, he said operators are “working hard to monetise their 5G capex”.

Rival True Corp’s 5G user base doubled to more than 10 million in 2022, with population coverage on track to reaching 85 per cent at year-end.

Tanaphon Manavutiveth, True’s co-group chief commercial officer, added that shipments of 5G devices are accounting for 15 per cent to the total, up from 5 per cent last year.

“The key success factor for us here in Thailand is the ecosystem is ready: cost efficiency, capex, and support from regulations and the government.”

He added Thailand is the fastest growing 5G market in ASEAN.

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