Thailand on Friday launched a Huawei Technologies 5G test bed, the tech giant's first such platform in Southeast Asia, amid rising scrutiny some Western countries set on the company.
The test site is located in Chonburi, the heart of Thailand's 45-billion-U.S.-dollar economic project, the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), about 90 km (55.92 miles) southeast of capital city Bangkok, Reuters reported on Friday.
Huawei, the world's top producer of telecoms equipment and second biggest maker of smartphones, claimed that it is currently the industry's only vendor that can provide end-to-end 5G systems.
The company said it has secured more than 30 commercial 5G contracts globally.
In addition to the test bed, Huawei is in talks with local telecoms operations, such as Advanced Info Service Pcl and TRUE, to secure local partnerships ahead of a national rollout scheduled for December 2020, Reuters reported, citing anonymous industry sources.
Backlash faced by Huawei
The U.S. has been pressuring its allies to resist Huawei for what is claimed security reasons although the company has repeatedly denied the allegation from the U.S. of spying for the Chinese government.
“We keep a close watch on the allegations worldwide. However, this 5G test bed project is a testing period for the country,” Thailand's Minister of Digital Economy Pichet Durongkaveroj was quoted as saying by Reuters. “We can make observations which will be useful to either confirm or disconfirm the allegations.”
In a rare interview last month, Ren Zhengfei, founder of Huawei, said his company would “never damage the interests of clients,” and the Chinese government has never asked for “inappropriate information.”
Cybersecurity has been made into a “political and maybe ideological issue” which is “not fair” for a technology company, Huawei Thailand said in a statement to Reuters on Friday.
The Chinese government has called for open and fair competition for Chinese tech companies, including Huawei.
When Australia banned Huawei from supplying equipment for a 5G mobile network last August, China described the move an “ideological prejudice” and urged Australia to provide a fair competitive environment for Chinese companies' operations.
Thailand's 5G plan
Thailand's 5G technology alliance in test bed laboratories and field trials was established to promote 5G infrastructure adoption by 2020, which has been a critical national agenda to achieve the Digital Thailand vision, Bangkok Post reported in November.
In addition to Huawei, the alliance includes Ericsson, Qualcomm, Intel, Nokia, major local telecom operators and the Thai Federation of ICT Technology Association, the report said.
Vendors like Nokia, Ericsson and Thai telecoms operators have also set up 5G labs at the test site in Chonburi, Reuters reported.
Pichet said that the government believes that 5G tech adoption will be 40 percent cheaper through infrastructure sharing, Bangkok Post reported.