Unlocking the power of 5G in Thailand remains uniquely complex

VP of External Relations Austin Menyasz on how 5G’s benefits can be unlocked more quickly

Originally from Canada, Austin Menyasz joined dtac in June 2020 after three years in Singapore with Telenor Group’s Asia operations as Director of Public and Regulatory Affairs. Previously, Mr. Menyasz was based in Hong Kong representing the mobile industry across Asia Pacific on policy and regulatory matters with the GSMA and was a civil servant for the Government of Canada.

As VP External Relations at dtac, he continues to work with numerous stakeholders, from industry groups to technical experts and regulators, to ensure dtac can provide the best possible services to its customers. He joins dtac at a time when public-private partnerships have never been so critical to the success of Thailand’s digital transformation, due to 5G reshaping how businesses, government and telecom operators work together.

dtacblog spoke to Mr. Menyasz to better understand how Thailand’s policy and regulatory framework affects the future of mobile connectivity.

“Ultimately the underlying government objectives in Thailand do not differ substantially from the ambitions anywhere else: leveraging technology to better the everyday life of citizens and boost economic productivity. What does differ in every country is the regulatory and policy environment, and whether it facilitates these objectives,” said Mr. Menyasz.

He points out that, compared to previous generations of mobile technology, 5G requires a much more nimble and flexible approach both in terms of policymaking and corporate strategy.

“Things move quickly in countries like Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong as the regulators have rethought what it means to regulate in the 5G era,” he said. “They’ve moved from being gatekeepers to facilitators by proactively creating sandboxes to test new ideas. They work with the telecom industry to give permissions that enable companies to innovate faster and deliver more relevant services to their customers. This approach can also be felt in the telecom licensing regimes, where many countries are now adopting less restrictive licenses to accelerate the deployment of new technologies. They are facilitating new models of industry cooperation around resources and infrastructure.”

Mr. Menyasz’s experience of Malaysia and Myanmar is also that the regulators there work closely and collaboratively with industry to identify and exploit new opportunities by ensuring the right resources are in place. “The true value of a national resource like spectrum is not being unlocked in the collection of auction proceeds or regulatory fees but in the improvement of network performance and downstream economic benefits to society at large,” he said. “This is why we believe Thailand’s broad push for 5G will help propel the country’s digital transformation.”

 

Along with other functions of dtac’s Corporate Affairs Group, Mr. Menyasz must now survey Thailand’s regulatory landscape and clear the path for the rest of dtac to innovate and develop products that help customers connect to what they need most.

“dtac’s rollout of 700 MHz services is a continuation of our efforts to deliver high-speed internet for all; and they will support the development of additional 5G use cases to benefit Thai society. To capture these opportunities, dtac will need to challenge the status quo and transform organizationally as 5G technology matures,” he said. “However, one thing that will not change is dtac’s commitment to doing business responsibly and protecting our customers’ interests.”

Regulatory and policy dependencies also mean that interactions between companies, policymakers and regulators are even more critical. dtacblog asked how the public and private sector can work together to accelerate innovation.

“As simple as it sounds, we make a very clear point that dtac always engages in a transparent and honest way. We strive to provide the best possible advice and technical guidance based on international best practices and our experience across so many different markets. Our stakeholders respect that, and know they can trust that we will give a straightforward take on what needs to be done, not just from the company’s perspective but based on solid evidence and deep expertise,” he answered.

When asked about what’s top of the agenda for 2021, Mr. Menyasz replied, “Supporting Thailand’s continued adoption of 5G, through exploring new use cases and effective use of spectrum. For instance, the 3500MHz band is the most widely used globally for 5G deployments, and when it becomes available it will be a game changer in the proliferation of 5G services.”

On a personal level, whilst Mr. Menyasz must deal in the arcane technicalities of the telecom industry, he is driven by a simple purpose to empower dtac’s customers.

“I feel fortunate that through my work I’ve had a real opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives by improving access to technology and connectivity,” Mr. Menyasz said. “What we do at dtac matters so much to the customers we serve, and this inspires me to give my all every day.”