Invest Further in Network Infrastructure in Latter Half of 2020 in High Density Usage Areas
dtac has announced its plan to invest further in network expansions during the latter half of 2020 so as to increase network efficiency in response to changing consumer behaviors, consumers’ migrations, and new ways of working. The plan will cover 2300 MHz on TOT waves, Massive MIMO expansions in areas with high usage density, 700 MHz for use cases in the industrial sector, and 700 MHz installations to boost signal coverage in key regions.
Sharad Mehrotra, chief executive officer of Total Access Communication Public Company Limited (dtac), says consumer behaviors have clearly changed in four aspects during the latter half of this year. He points out that purchasing power has reduced, digital-channel usage has increased, workers have migrated to their home provinces, and data usage has risen significantly.
Just as COVID-19 outbreak has changed Thai consumers’ behaviors, data usage has increased by over 44 per cent a year between January and June.
“In the face of consumer-behavior and network changes, data usage in provinces now grow at the faster rate than Bangkok’s. dtac, therefore, is now urgently upgrading signal transmission efficiency. The goal is to make it three times better in areas with high usage density,” Mehrotra says.
Work-from-home mode has spurred the use of several apps such as Zoom and MS Teams, while online services related to online classes, as well as online shopping have also enjoyed a big boost in recent months. With such trend, data usage on dtac network has soared very high.
Forecasts suggest that Thailand’s gross domestic products (GDP) will shrunk by eight per cent and the number of foreign tourists will drop by 80 per cent this year from 2019. A World Bank report predicts that more than 8.3 million Thais will be at risk of losing jobs or income. Amid uncertainties, many migrants have decided to leave unemployment in Bangkok for their home provinces. As a result, data-usage growth in provinces has been five times higher than that in the capital. Data usage in provinces has continued to grow high even after the government started easing lockdowns.
“At the time consumers need connectivity and digital services as major tools for their living, dtac is speeding up its Massive MIMO and 4G-TDD installations to accommodate growing demand”, Mehrotra says.
dtac aims to increase the number of 4G-TDD base stations by more than 20,000 before the end of 2020 for the purpose of expanding 2300 MHz on TOT waves in support of its delivery of high-speed internet services.
“More than 76 per cent of dtac customers’ mobile phones and communications devices are compatible with 4G-TDD. This fact underlines dtac’s status as the leading service provider on 4G-TDD system, which works fine with most smartphones,” Mehrotra says.
Massive MIMO expansions are also going ahead urgently in areas with high usage density, as dtac seeks to triple service efficiency and upgrade customer experiences in the use of its high-speed internet on either mobile phone or dtac@home.
Moreover, dtac is now setting up 5G base stations for 26 GHz band in target areas. It has also been making preparations for 700 MHz band, as it waits for a license from the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) based on use cases. The 700 MHz services will be made available to industrial operators in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) in the third quarter of this year, according to the plan. Usage will be for smart surveillance cameras and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), etc.
dtac is ready to implement 700 MHz services for all key regions, for as long as the license issued by the NBTC allows it to do so.
“Our main goals are to develop network efficiency for all customers, and to present offers or services that will ease our customers’ financial burdens,” Mehrotra says.
Creating Seamless Digital Ecosystem
dtac focuses on delivering digital experiences that links the online and the offline worlds together. As dtac develops new services for digital experiences at affordable prices, it has joined hands with partners from various industries. The partnerships bring useful services to dtac app for customers to enjoy at a special price during difficult times. Thanks to dtac’s collaborations with partners, there are special deals for health insurances, discount coupons for use at pharmacies, add-on services that come with games and fun activities, shopping choices, delivery services, and various free data-usage options. During strict lockdowns, dtac had offered data packages at very special prices. Customers may choose to subscribe at daily, weekly or monthly rates in response to their usage needs and budget.
“Redemptions of dtac rewards related to online shopping and online orders for food deliveries jumped by five times during strict lockdowns. As physical outlets shut down temporarily, more consumers turned to the online world,” Mehrotra says.
New Way of Working
The CEO of dtac says his firm has changed its way of working in response to sudden changes caused by COVID-19. The new approach places a strong emphasis on flexibility and ability to respond to changing lifestyles.
At dtac, ‘tight-loose-tight’ has become a new norm. Work schedules become flexible. More automation systems are integrated to increase efficiency and speed up the delivery of products/services to customers.
Mehrotra believes such approach will raise dtac’s potential and competitiveness in a significant way, with less workload for humans and new corporate culture in the making.
At present, all dtac offices have allowed over 95 per cent of their staff to work on flexible schedules. They take turns coming to offices. Working at office is done mostly when necessary only.
“At dtac, tight-loose-tight means we set clear expectations, we give our staff flexibility in achieving goals, and we clearly identify their job responsibilities. We believe that staff are looking for greater flexibility in their work. They want freedom in making decisions. When we grant that, staff’s satisfaction and efficiency will rise,” Mehrotra says.
dtac has planned to raise efficiency further by integrating more automation into IT technologies, network operations, and business functions.
It also invites its staff to enter ‘BOTATHON’ contest. Winning team will get an opportunity to build a “robot assistant” for the mission of reducing worktime, preventing human errors, and decreasing time needed to deliver products/services to consumers.
“As we seek to deliver connectivity services at affordable prices amid challenging economic situation, we must recognize that efficiency is still at the heart of our business development and that we need to demonstrate social responsibility as a network provider. Our key goals in the latter half of 2020 are to efficiently adjust our way of working and to deliver services that respond better to customers’ needs,” Mehrotra says.