The countdown to the new year is always a time for celebration, and this year is no different. As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to subside, many people are looking forward to gathering with friends and loved ones for year-end celebrations. In Thailand, the countdown parties have drawn millions of international visitors eager to experience the joyous ambiance and share in the festivities. And this year Bangkok has been ranked among the top 10 countdown destinations by CNN.
To ensure that the celebrations run smoothly, hundreds of frontline employees and support functions have been hard at work. dtacblog spoke with Suttiphol Warangrit, dtac’s head of Network Operations Center (NOC), and his team to learn more about the mobile operator’s preparations for Thailand’s countdown events.
Ensuring Reliable Services During Festive Season
According to Mr. Suttiphol, New Year celebrations are always lively and full of energy. The holiday season is a time for people to come together with their families or friends to celebrate with parties or colorful events. In Bangkok, two of the most popular countdown celebrations will be the Amazing Thailand Countdown 2023 at IconSiam and the Central World Bangkok Countdown 2023, which is known as the “Times Square of Asia.” It is estimated that more than three million people will attend these events.
As people send warm greetings and best wishes to their loved ones to mark the new year, mobile operators have a crucial role in ensuring smooth and reliable service during peak times. In the past, people used SMS, MMS, and phone calls to communicate with their loved ones during the hours leading up to midnight on New Year’s Eve, where high usage often led to network bottlenecks and service disruptions. Today, messaging applications like Facebook Messenger and Line have become the main channels for communication. Some users even use social media platforms like Facebook Live to do live streams. To deliver a smooth customer experience, especially in high-traffic areas, mobile operators like dtac must be prepared for an increase in mobile data usage during peak hours, which typically starts at 11:30 pm on New Year’s Eve and lasts for another hour.
“At dtac, we are committed to improving the network experiences of our customers, and as of the end of Q3 2022, we have installed more than 18,800 base stations on 5G 700MHz to address service issues and increase outdoor and indoor coverage. We have also increased network capacity in crowded areas such as transportation hubs, popular tourist destinations, temples, and venues for countdown events, by implementing Massive MIMO technology and various network solutions including temporary mobile base stations and Quick Deploy locations,” he said. “A ‘war room’ has been set up at our NOC to closely monitor network operations and ensure the smoothest possible experience for customers during this festive season.”
Behind the Scenes
“The NOC is like the central hub and the NOC team is responsible for monitoring overall network activities and communicating with frontliners to ensure timely responses to any issues that may arise,” according to Ekarin Patthamakajorn, head of Network Governance and a supervisor of the NOC. “We always have people on standby at the NOC and also work with support staff and network partners.”
The NOC team at dtac has implemented a rotation system for time off during the holiday season to allow its members the opportunity to celebrate the New Year with their loved ones. For those who have to be on duty, the NOC team takes steps to make sure they don’t miss out on the festivities by hosting a party and gift exchange.
“I am grateful to be part of a team that takes care of customers during this festive season. The support and encouragement from our senior management also helps boost morale among all dtac’s engineers working in the frontlines and in the back office,” Mr. Ekarin shared.
Bringing Joy to Customers
Kwanticha Prommes, a member of the NOC team at dtac, has been working for the company for over 19 years. Despite working on New Year’s Eve for nearly a decade, she never feels isolated while others are enjoying the holiday festivities. In fact, she doesn’t feel like she’s missing out on anything, because she considers dtac her second family.
Wareerat Jaroenchim, another member of the NOC team, shared her experience of working during New Year’s Eve at the NOC: “In the evening, we have a feast and gift exchange. And at around 8pm, all of us are on standby to monitor network operations and process key performance indicators (KPIs) every 30 minutes. We also check live broadcasts at countdown venues to gather relevant information. Usage demand normally peaks for half an hour after the start of the new year.”
“We are proud to have played a role in bringing joy to dtac customers,” the two female engineers said.