Beginning in 2019, the major first 5G rollout took until 2020. In January of 2020, a total of 34 countries had adopted the technology on some level. As of November 2020, that number has reached 67, with more to come by year’s end. Even given this rapid growth, Thailand, specifically Bangkok, stands as one of the biggest in terms of widespread 5G adoption.
While a direct percentage of coverage within the city limits is difficult to discern, the coverage maps available online paint an already developed picture. Running as far south as Phra Pradaeng to as north as Lak Si, an enormous quantity of Bangkok now operates under 5G.
According to a press release from Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS), 5G in Thailand now reaches all 77 provinces. While the coverage in these provinces isn’t yet as broad as it is in major popular centers like Bangkok, this is still a progressive trend. As the largest mobile service operator in Thailand, AIS is the first to accomplish this feat.
5G Application in Bangkok
As a set of connected systems and protocols, 5G operates as an extension and expansion of existing 4G technologies. Fundamentally this ties into three aspects, bandwidth, latency, and simultaneous connections. All three of these have proven immensely important to the people of Bangkok. Making the adoption one that has been welcomed with open arms.
According to modern surveys, 75% of people in Thailand used smartphones in 2020. At current rates, this level of penetration is expected to reach 87% by 2025. As urban centers tend to have greater levels of adoption proportionally, Bangkok’s numbers are likely higher than the national average.
While increased bandwidth and lower latency undoubtedly play a key part in Bangkok’s 5G adoption, more instrumental are the higher number of allowed simultaneous connection points. As fast as 4G can be, at 100Mbps compared to 5G’s theoretical 10Gbps, these numbers are often heavily disrupted by traffic.
In real-world circumstances, the number of users on 4G towers can dramatically degrade the overall mobile experience. As of June 22, 2020, Bangkok had a population of just over 10.5 million. This was separated into a population density of 6,718 per square kilometer. A 4G cell tower has a maximum theoretical range of 70 kilometers.
The problem with this is that 4G connections have a maximum number of 100,000 simultaneous connections. Under these limitations, 4G towers can be overwhelmed, even when multiple towers overlook the same area. 5G towers, with a much shorter range of around 300 meters. They can handle up to a million simultaneous connections. While this does mean many 5G towers need to placed, this one aspect alone fundamentally overcomes Bangkok’s issues of network overcrowding.
Aside from the advantages found from lower levels of crowding, most users are likely not going to see major benefits from the 5G’s latency and bandwidth improvements. There are exceptions to this, however, in the case of ultra-high-requirement streaming.
High frame-rate video at high resolutions is one example of this, where 4G limits can be tested on Youtube, Twitch, or Hulu. Also of note is the sharing of mobile connections through a single device hotspot. This can be extremely helpful when paired with laptops, which can have higher demands than mobiles alone.
For more typical uses, 5G’s advantages might not be so noticeable. Browsing and light entertainment internet use such as the sites listed at Asiabet are a popular example of this. Whether browsing the reviews to collecting bonuses or loading and playing the games, no part of these experiences should appreciably change during a 5G upgrade.
With 5G already so far along, Thailand could easily be one of the first countries to achieve maximum viable 5G penetration. Note that this doesn’t mean complete coverage, due to the cost and quantity of towers that this would require. Larger outdoor areas will likely never see complete 5G integration. Instead relying on 4G’s greater range and penetration. For Bangkok and other major population centers, however, Thailand is far ahead of the curve and only improving.