WinWin Issue 42
Head of Mobile and Consumer Products Department, Advanced Info Service Plc., AIS Thailand
Cross-Generation 5G Experience for Business Success
-- Thailand is one of the first countries in the Asia Pacific region to deploy 5G. The 5G network is the backbone of the Digital Thailand initiatives. Operators are in the process of migrating from 4G to 5G and also looking to 5.5G or 5G Advanced. They are actively pursuing 5G monetization opportunities across various consumer and industrial sectors. With this aim, operators are investing in 5G technologies that enable new use cases across different verticals.
AIS 5G Strategy
AIS owns the largest share of 5G spectrum in Thailand. We have low band with 300 MHz, mid band at 2.6 GHz, and high band at 26 GHz in the mmWave spectrum. The mid-band spectrum is widely used for coverage in metro areas, whereas low band is leveraged for suburban and rural areas. The mmWave band is planned for dense urban deployment. While low-band deployments promise greater coverage, mid-band provides greater bandwidth and hence a better user experience. AIS has covered 85% of the population with both low band and mid band, and we hope to cover 88% by the end of 2023.
During the past two years, we witnessed rapid growth in the adoption of 5G devices, thanks to the availability of these devices across multiple price ranges. In Thailand, smartphones are now available for less than $200 USD. With operator subsidies, the price can be further reduced to as low as $30 USD. Thailand’s device strategy has been paying off well, as it revolves around a “triple win” thinking, benefiting device makers, operators, and end users. Operators can also bundle content offers along with the device, which will open up new monetization opportunities. As users spend more time on the network, operators will benefit from increased network usage and thus increased ARPU.
Having said that, customer expectations for 5G revolve around three popular promises: higher speed, lower latency and low power for machine communication, hence the relevance of respective technologies like eMBB, URLLC, and mMTC. However, we should remember that 5G cannot deliver all the three features simultaneously on a single network because each of them requires different network configurations. This situation has led to the concept of 5G network slicing. With network slicing, we partition the 5G network for different settings so that the different slices can support different types of applications, for example, one for mobile, another for AR/VR, and the third one for autonomous vehicles, etc.
Building Success through 5G: The OT Strategies
The unrivalled balance of bandwidth, latency, capacity and security enabled by 5G networks makes them the ideal operational technology (OT) networks to deliver 24x7 connectivity for high-volume and always-on production processes including warehousing, supply chain and logistics. In order to deliver 5G for industrial scenarios, operators will require the support of experts in the Operation Technology (OT) and System Integration (SI) domain. In smart manufacturing, for example, telcos provide the network, but they need the OT provider for the hardware. While operator can support private network and network slicing, they need software and applications from the OT providers. Also, when operators deploy capabilities like Edge, Cloud and an IoT platform, they need support from the SI. Thus, the co-existence of all three pillars is critical for driving the success of enterprise 5G.
5G promises several operational gains for businesses. Data visualization provides operations personnel and customers with deep knowledge and experience overlays. Ubiquitous access to data and computing power helps improve efficiency and intelligent management of resources. The data generated from sensors can be leveraged to improve current business models and unleash new ones. With agile automation capabilities, industries can enable automation with minimal trade-offs on customization, flexibility or quality. The trusted connections across 5G network can enable critical services which deliver on the promises of network uptime and secure connectivity.
Realize business gains with AIS 5G next-gen platform
AIS has developed a next-generation platform with a focus on delivering high levels of user experience for both toC and toB customers. AIS’ next-gen platform allows high levels of scalability and customization, supporting a wide range of consumer and industrial applications. This will help drive the adoption of applications including immersive entertainment, travel, education, wellness and gaming. To complement this, AIS also launched new AR/VR services which deliver highly immersive applications, blending the best in the real and virtual worlds.
For enterprises, the next-gen platform aggregates the 5G network with edge computing, public cloud and an applications ecosystem. With this, a wide range of new business services are enabled. Built on a hybrid cloud platform, AIS next-gen 5G platform for enterprises allow customers to quickly deploy applications, while still offering the scalability and flexibility required in new application development scenarios. For AIS, it opens the door for new services, partnerships and revenue opportunities.
AIS next-gen platform can reduce application deployment time from months to weeks or even days. Businesses can also realize significant savings, about 20-25%, on hardware costs. The time to market is reduced as it allows businesses to launch at small scale and then scale up. The edge capabilities at multiple locations allow them to expand the service to those locations, with greater promises such as near zero latency. The platform is also built with an application marketplace from Global SaaS providers, promising large-scale growth by leveraging world-class applications.
5G and Beyond
We believe that 5G is not just a faster alternative to 4G, but a lot more than that. It has the capability to enable several next-gen applications while also enhancing the performance of a large number of applications across consumer and industrial scenarios.
Beyond 5G is 5G Advanced or 5.5 G. Unlike 5G, the 5G Advanced allows you to use two features at a time. For example, combining a domestic machine type communication with eMBB, we could enable the uplink centric broadband that allows us to have very high-speed uplink for machine that support applications like machine vision or HD video uploading. The combination of eMBB with URLLC will allow us to have high speed and low latency to support applications like rich XR and holographic. Combination of machine communications with low latency will allow us to have harmonized communication with sensors, leading to real-time sensor capabilities.
We expect that 5G Advanced specifications will materialize soon, in 3GPP Release 18; if so, by 2025, operators will be able to upgrade the radio network to be ready for 5G Advanced. They also need to automate their core networks and adopt trends like cloudification and next-gen applications driven by 5G and beyond.
To summarize, technology has helped humanity make significant strides in the history. With innovative technologies like those from Huawei, we can realize the true potential of 5G. Let’s walk the journey together to make the world happier and a better place to live.