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Ban Chang: Thailand’s First “Fully Functioning” 5G-Based Smart City

In a broad collaboration, involving state-owned operator National Telecom Public Company Limited (NT), the Thailand branch of an American multinational technology conglomerate and an American telecommunications software company, Ban Chang becomes Thailand’s first “fully functioning” 5G-based smart city.

The telecommunications software company helpfully provided details (a cursory Internet search to see if any of the other players involved had an angle here came up zero). The smart city leverages telecom software firm’s cloud-native, open architecture-based private network solution deployed by TOT (Telephone Organization of Thailand). TOT, after a recent merger with Cat Telecom, is now NT, which coordinated with both the software company and the technology conglomerate on the smart city project in Ban Chang.

The tech conglomerate provides switching hardware and application services to enable the “smart” components of the 5G solution. Another player in the smart city mix is a Macedonia-based private network specialist capable of delivering, in the words of the telecom software firm, “end-to-end 5G smart cities.”

It was also noted that the smart city runs on mmWave radios and a 5G core using open APIs “in-sync with cloud-native solutions supporting private on-premise applications.” The set-up, said the supplier, enables “smart city concepts,” such as real-time diagnostics of traffic, public safety and digital signage.

Ban Chang is connected to a motorway linking Thailand’s two largest cities: Pattaya and Bangkok. It’s also close to U-Tapao International Airport and Map Ta Phut Industrial Zone, which, according to the telecom software company’s account, makes it the “perfect city” to take advantage of various 5G uses, including industrial robots, factory automation, remote telemedicine, aviation, logistics and agriculture.

Thailand powering ahead with smart city development

OpenGov Asia reported earlier that the UK and Thailand have jointly launched the “UK Thailand Tech Export Academy”.  The collaboration aims to promote the development of “smart cities” to be constructed across Thailand. So far, the initiative has involved the matching of over 200 businesses from the UK and Thailand. UK’s Minister for Exports co-launched the academy in the form of a virtual trade mission, alongside Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, Thailand’s Minister of Digital Economy and Society (MDES).

The Tech Academy initiative was kick-started in 2020, the UK’s International Trade Secretary, as part of a British government strategy to support UK businesses emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. From over 100 commercial enterprises that applied for the 9-month program, a total of 30 were picked to become involved in the trade mission to Thailand.

Smart City Handbook and other initiatives

The virtual trade mission constitutes one component of the two countries’ smart cities cooperation in line with the initial launch of the UK-Thailand Smart City Handbook, established in partnership with Thailand’s Digital Economy and Promotion Agency (DEPA).

Other activities the UK has been working on including ongoing projects under the UK’s Global Future Cities program. This involves working with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to create an improved flood management system for Lat Phrao, being one of the city’s 50 districts.

A data centre is also being planned to support the collection and use of data for decision-making in Bangkok, in addition to the creation of a development masterplan for the Khlong Bang Luang region and Bang Wa BTS Station.

The Digital Trade Network was also introduced last year as a three-year pilot program to enhance the UK’s digital tech capabilities in supporting digital trade and investment opportunities in Thailand.

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