By Ornvipa Rumroy
Thai mobile network providers have been waiting for years to set up 5G technology – fifth generation internet connectivity that assures faster data transfers and more stable connections.
Though 5G provides a larger speed range, it still depends on each network’s latency and devices among other factors. Compared to 4G, 5G offers speeds that are much higher and a broader bandwidth, allowing users to reach approximately 10Gbps maximum internet download speed, compared to the 4G+ connections’ speed of 300Mbps.
To clarify the difference in speed, Lifewire has collected the following data on the time required to download a 3GB film. The test was run on realistic speed, not peak speeds: 3G: 1 hour, 8 minutes, 4G: 40 minutes, 4G LTE: 27 minutes, 5G: 35 seconds
According to a report on internet consumption from the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA), Thais on average spend 10 hours and five minutes daily online – three times more than last year. Over the past four years, the online presence of Y and Z generations has been 10 hours and 22 minutes on weekdays and almost 12 hours on the weekends. In comparison, Gen X and the baby boomers have been averaging around eight hours on both weekdays and weekends.
Judging from these details, Thai consumers appear to be ready for 5G. According to Ericsson’s ConsumerLab Report, one in two smartphone users in Thailand will switch their network provider if they are given moving benefits and if their current provider doesn’t offer 5G technology.
We have gathered opinions from three generations about 5G, their familiarity with this technology, what they expect from Thai providers, how much they are willing to spend on both smartphones and monthly subscription, and when they will shift to the 5G network.
College student Ploy, 20
“I first heard about 5G technology when I got my 4G smartphone. It has been promised for ages now. I would love the new technology because I’m a heavy internet user, downloading films and surfing social-media networks.
“However, I believe it will only be available in Bangkok. My Netflix dies sometimes when I travel upcountry with my family, as the 4G network service is very limited. If I have the opportunity to change my phone, I will – but it depends on whether my mum will let me. I currently use the Bt899 monthly subscription, and if I’m offered 5G speeds at the same price, it will be great!”
Office worker, 26, who works and lives in Bangkok’s Ratchada area
“It’s like an upgraded version of 4G right? If it is more convenient and provides higher speeds, there is no reason to keep using the same service. I have learned that I will need to change my phone too. I think the new one will be more expensive, because it will use new technology. I prefer to wait for yearend promotions. I suspect monthly subscriptions of less than Bt1,000 will be offered for the 5G service.”
Government officer Wanida Rumroy, 59
“I have read on Facebook that 5G technology will perhaps be available by the end of this year. I assume Huawei will dominate the 5G mobile market in Thailand. I don’t care about it much, because my phone is still working just fine. If it breaks, then I will say hello to a 5G phone. New technology is expensive, but the price should not be more than 15 to 20 per cent higher than what’s offered now, or people will not be encouraged to change.”
Nobody we spoke to knew about 5G television, which will automatically connect to the mobile network without users having to rely on Wi-Fi connections. Though everybody was excited about it, their excitement seemed to die when we revealed how much it would cost.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has granted 700MHz licences to the three key telecom operators – DTAC, Advanced Info Service (AIS) and True Corporation. The terms of the licences become valid in October 2020, and NBTC also plans to allocation additional spectra to prepare for the launch of 5G.
Experiments on 5G across the world
The world’s first test-run on remote surgery through 5G was successfully conducted in China on January 8 this year. A doctor in the southeastern province of Fujian successfully removed the liver of a laboratory animal located 50 kilometres away. The surgery was done using the extremely low latency of 5G with 0.1 seconds lag time.
A new gadget for monitoring the health of cows is being tested in the English town of Shepton Mallet, with 51 dairy cows wearing 5G smart collars and ear tags. The 5G collars are connected to an automated milking system that keeps track of when the cows need to be milked and automatically opens the gate for them.
The harvesting of crops in England is also connected to 5G technology. Some farmers are already using cellular internet of things technology to optimise the level of fertiliser in their fields and can estimate when the crop is ready to be harvested through sensors in soil or in farming equipment.
Cars will soon be intelligent enough to no longer require a human driver. These cars will be connected to other vehicles, infrastructure, architecture and traffic signs through onboard sensors and connectivity chips, so they can deliver their passengers to their destination safely. It is expected that automakers, tech companies and communications providers will soon start competing to put V2X (vehicle to any communication) on the road in the near future, and the logistics market is expected to grow at a significant pace and subsequently bring the costs down.
New gaming generation
There is a promise that 5G will usher a new era to the gaming world, with faster, more stable internet connections and new compatible devices. The technology will not only provide cloud-based gamers with higher resolution and next to no lag time on game-streaming services, they will also get to enjoy close-to-reality experiences with virtual reality headsets. These developments are bound to have game developers gearing up to compete in the future.