True Corporation’s Head of 5G Working Group, Piroon Paireepairit, explains the company’s 5G priorities for delivering improved 5G services

Thailand’s True Corporation first turned on its 5G network over two years ago, back in March 2020, and since then the company has gone from strength to strength, leveraging the new technology to provide novel and improved services in both the B2C and B2B spheres. 

Speaking at Mobile World Congress 2022, True Corporation’s Head of 5G Working Group, Piroon Paireepairit, said that there were three main factors for the company’s success in the B2C space: coverage, new experiences, and the mobile handset markets maturity.

You can watch the full interview from the link above

The necessity of widespread 5G coverage largely speaks for itself; for customers to adopt 5G, they must be assured that the high bandwidth and low latency, as well as next-generation services, can be used on the move, regardless of their location within the country. 

For True, like most operators around the world, initial focusses for 5G rollout were centred on the country’s most densely populated areas, such as the Bangkok Metropolitan Area, in which 98% of the population is now covered by True 5G. However, for True, extending 5G to all of the country’s provinces was a “first priority”, ensuring 5G services could be accessed at key locations around the country quickly and building nationwide demand.

“We have to keep expanding our network,” said Paireepairit. “Because right now, we launched phase one of our network, we know user behaviours, so we know where to focus on putting more network coverage.”

The second factor in B2C success, according to Paireepairit, is differentiating 5G services from those of 4G. 5G’s higher speed and lower latency enables a wide variety of new consumer services that were simply not feasible over a 4G connection, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). By collaborating with partners to build these new services, operators like True can unlock new revenue streams, as well as generating demand throughout the population. 

“We have to do some kind of new services to show that 5G can deliver something which is different, for example, like VR services and cloud gaming,” explained Paireepairit. “In the first year, some of [the services] might be just showcases, but in the second year we have to build out the ecosystem so that we have the right business model with all the partners.”

Building these effective commercial partnerships, particularly with content creators, will be at the heart of new service success. In the coming years, True says it will focus on the creation of facilities like extended reality (XR) studios, in which it can co-develop content with partners. 

“We share the revenue and generate something new together,” explained Paireepairit.

But 5G coverage and the creation of exciting services are meaningless if customers cannot use them on their mobile devices. Paireepairit highlighted the importance of developing the ecosystem of 5G handsets as the third key factor in achieving 5G success, with new devices at more reasonable price-points lowering the barriers to 5G adoption.

Until this more affordable device ecosystem becomes a reality, however, focus must be given to shifting existing high-value customers onto 5G-capable devices. 

“We have to ensure that we do the customer segmentation and a lot of data analytics to capture these earlier adopters and high-tier customers, getting them to adopt the new handsets and move into the 5G ecosystem,” said Paireepairit.

The B2B market, meanwhile, will require an entirely different strategy, aiming to take advantage of the many new use cases 5G can enable for enterprise and industry. These new use cases, from AI and automation to the IoT and virtual reality, are what Paireepairit describes as “the new revenue stream” for telcos, bringing “a lot of added values and capabilities that were not possible with 4G in vertical industries”.

But while the potential of 5G to create new use cases is undeniable, creating working relationships with new verticals is a challenge. In the past, telcos have typically had a limited relationship with these companies and understanding their specific needs will be key to creating valuable services. 

True is already beginning to forge these relationships, working to create 5G services for healthcare, transport, and many other verticals.

“Together with Siriraj Hospital and Huawei, we’re playing very important roles in bringing technologies inside the hospital. It is the first MEC network that we roll out in Southeast Asia,” explained Paireepairit. “We are also implementing a smart station in Bangkok, where they are building the high-speed train from Bangkok to the Eastern seaboard, one of the biggest station hubs in Bangkok. We, Huawei, and some other partners believe transport is going to be a very significant 5G use case for the smart stations in Thailand.”

In fact, this focus on new services for vertical industries represents more than just a new revenue stream for telcos, but an entirely new shift in identity. In the past, telcos have been primarily direct service providers, serving their customers directly. Now, instead, True is aiming to become an aggregator, using their connectivity as a springboard to enable a wide ecosystem of services from third parties.

“We also have to try to position ourselves as the super system integrator, so we integrate all the small system integrators and all the technology providers,” concluded Paireepairit. “We will need to a lot more of this in several vertical areas.”

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