With the 5G spectrum auctions having concluded on February 2020, 5G – a technology that will transform both the public and industrial sectors in Thailand – is drawing nearer and nearer to all Thais.
5G is the next step in the evolution of wireless communication, which has progressed from 1G (analog audio) to 2G (digital audio and text messaging), 3G (mobile internet), and 4G (high-speed internet). 5G will be the most advanced yet because of its three main capabilities: gigabit speed; 30-50 faster response time, vital for high-precision technology such as driverless vehicles and remote surgery; IoT or the capacity to accommodate over one million connection points per station compared to the previous 10,000-100,000 points.
In the business sector, the increased speed and accuracy brought on by 5G will play a key role in disrupting all types of industries and triggering a transition towards the era of industrial connection, in which devices are connected through 5G modules – chipsets embedded in machines such as industrial mechanical arms, vehicles, and AI that enable them to connect and communicate among each other. This scenario will form the basis for new businesses, enhance efficiency, and significantly reduce costs.
Fiber optic cable is an indispensable equipment capable of implementing and delivering 5G technology services to customers effectively with maximum efficiency. This leads to the necessity of all parties in the value chain to work together to develop cables that not only accommodate new usage but are also appropriate for use Thailand’s weather.
TOT – Public host network operator
Senior Director Test & Development Sector
TOT Innovation Institute
TOT Public Company Limited
The goal for 5G development in Thailand is to improve both the signal and equipment, especially “outside plant”, the development of which must take into account the tropical condition, more specifically the temperature, moisture level, operating environment, and how the outside plant is deployed in remote areas.
“The key advantages of 5G are low latency, high precision, and low levels of errors. However, a disadvantage is its limited control area, meaning that an antenna must be installed every 300-400 meters and in turn more cables are required. The main problem with all types of telecommunication cables in Thailand is when they catch fire, the flames will spread quickly, causing damage to buildings and vehicles underneath. Therefore, network operators are looking for cable jacketing made of flame-retardant and UV resistant materials for outdoor use that is not only tough and durable but also allows for thinner cables and reduces unsightly tangles.”
“We believe that each party in the value chain can bring their own expertise to the table and create a collaboration. For instance, TOT is not a manufacturer. As a user, we aim to replace all our copper cables with fiber optic cables by 2025, and this can be a project for cable manufacturers and material producers. A collaboration allows all parties to come together, discuss, and brainstorm before they go back and work on their own part. This process will result in a cable or a solution that answers the needs of every party involved.”
TRUE – Private network service provider
True Internet Corporation
To enable the general public to fully enjoy 5G’s superior data capacity, speed, and signal stability, it is necessary to have proper system equipment, especially cables of signal transmission, to serve as infrastructure for the technology.
“From now on, cables must have a guaranteed lifespan of at least 30 years and will be moved underground. Designers have to come up with a design that achieves both signal transmission and durability in an underground environment, which is hidden from sight. Choosing quality materials from the beginning can help guarantee that the cable will meet the usage requirements and have a long lifespan. Our multilateral discussion to establish new and uniform standards for such a basic component as materials marks a good first step for optimizing the development of equipment for this new technology.”
SCG – Manufacturer of plastic resin for cables
Cable Business Manager
Chemicals Business, SCG
Among the changes accompanying the advent of 5G is the undergrounding of overhead cables in Bangkok. From a very early stage, SCG’s team got in touch with the installation team to learn more about the initiative and successfully developed a plastic resin suitable for 5G cables, with properties meeting the requirements of all parties in the value chain.
“In the future, all cables in Bangkok will be taken underground, which will help circumvent the limitations of space and weight faced by overhead cables. To install cables underground, they are air-blown into microducts, which is the easiest and fastest method. However, this means that the cables have to be small enough to enter microducts and must be thin, strong, lightweight, and capable of carrying a large number of fiber optic cables.
“SCG compiled the requirements of all parties to inform the development of the materials for cabling and other equipment, such as microducts, which need to be tough and durable because they are not only buried underground but are drilled into and dragged around, as well as jacketing. For these materials, we focused on achieving long product lifetime, safety, fire retardation, and suitability for use in the tropical weather.”
Aimed at elevating the standards and capability of Thailand’s telecommunications industry, the exchange of experience and know-how among all players in the value chain has made it possible to clearly identify the needs of each sector. This has led to a prompt and unified development, which will ultimately benefit the general public, who will enjoy a better quality of life as 5G becomes a part of their daily life.
An important step in the multilateral collaboration
The Telecommunication Innovation and Technology Academic Association (TITA) has been established to enhance the knowledge base of the telecommunications industry and elevate the standards of related products in Thailand and, in the future, on an international level. It is a collaborative initiative consisting of four major components: academic teams, led by the Telecommunications Engineering Department, the Faculty of Engineering, Mahanakorn University of Technology; leading cable manufacturers, including Siam Fiber Optics, Thai Fiber Optics and HBC Telecom; public and private operators, such as TOT and TRUE; and material consultant, SCG.