Thai state-owned National Telecom (NT) has partnered with telecom operator AIS to support its commercial 5G strategy. NT will rent RAN gear from AIS and utilize the latter's 700 MHz spectrum. The nation's telecom regulator has given approval to this collaboration.
The agreement includes the lease of 13,500 base stations, which AIS will construct over the next two years. Additionally, there is a domestic roaming deal in place until March 2036. During the network construction phase, AIS will provide roaming services to NT free of charge. However, once the network is completed, an unspecified roaming fee will be implemented.
As part of the deal, AIS will pay THB14.9 billion (US$419.6 million) to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission for half of NT's 700 MHz spectrum. A condition of this agreement is that 20% of the spectrum will be reserved for MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators).
Previously, state-owned operator CAT Telecom acquired two 5 MHz blocks of 700 MHz spectrum through an auction in 2020, spending THB 34.3 billion. NT also has plans to launch 5G services for enterprises using 400 MHz of 26 GHz spectrum, which it acquired through the merger with CAT Telecom.
AIS recently conducted a trial of mmWave 5G standalone technology in Bangkok, partnering with Chinese equipment vendor ZTE. This trial aims to enhance new use cases such as virtual reality (VR) and online gaming.