5G is not a solo game. It is all about teamwork – understanding the problem and co-creating with your partners to offer the best total solution. A process which Telenor Connexion and dtac, both owned by Telenor Group, that boasts over 180 million global customers, are more than familiar with. Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Seth Ryding, Chief Sales Officer for Global Sales at Telenor Connexion, and Dr Reduan Hasan Khan, Head of B2B Products at dtac. We took the opportunity to discuss Telenor’s rollout of 5G globally, most notably in Thailand, and what they have learned from it. 

Vision to empower society

So, how do Seth and Reduan work together, and where do these companies overlap? Telenor Connexion is the global IoT company of Telenor Group, and dtac is the third-largest global GSM mobile provider in Thailand. The two substrates of Telenor Group both have a clear vision: to empower society. Rather than focusing on individual technologies, they believe in providing solutions through local networks and technology expertise. 

Thailand as a leading 5G market for Telenor Asia

Despite having customers across Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and China, Thailand is leading the 5G rollout in the Telenor Asia Group. Although this might seem surprising as a developing market, the demand for 5G in Thailand is driven by the government and the private sector, who are enthusiastic about the transformations 5G can accelerate.

The government of Thailand is currently working with dtac to trial the new capabilities 5G can offer. The aim is to positively benefit society and improve the day-to-day lives of its citizens through smart solutions. Currently, they are trialing out Smart Water Management, Smart Electricity, and Smart Agriculture. In the future, they plan to develop this into Smart Cities, Smart Utilities, and Smart Transportation, improving citizen services to empower Thailand's society. 

dtac has also been working closely alongside the manufacturing industry in Thailand – the largest industry in the private sector. Most of the new use cases they will now introduce will involve 5G applications that will drive automation and efficiency, positively benefitting productivity and worker safety. Thus, allowing Thailand to develop a stronger service that can compete with rival markets. 

5G is pushing Telenor to collaborate with partner ecosystems and to diversify the business 

The growing demand for digitalization and new technologies such as 5G, Edge, AI, and IoT has led Telenor to increase its collaboration with partner ecosystems and diversify the business, expanding into new verticals such as financial, medical, and agricultural services, to keep up with the pace of change. 

These technologies have created new dynamics in the ecosystem and have shifted Telenor and dtac’s relationship with their customers from a traditional supplier into acting more like partners. Now, both sides look for mutual gains that help them to solve business problems. In this new dynamic, Telenor avoids focusing on individual technologies and products, prioritizing results instead, as Reduan notes, “Whatever will be, we suggest, or we propose, it has to be future proof, as the technology landscape is changing very fast. And we need to ensure that customer's investment decisions are at least safer.”

Start small; focus on value, not on the cost

This approach stems from Telenor’s focus on ‘starting small’, as Seth puts it, ‘we try to get proof of concept in the market fast to try to show the value of the solution that you have created’. Telenor and dtac both believe that in both internal and external discussions, value should come before cost. Their approach is a great lesson for other CSPs expanding into the 5G scene. As Seth points out, ‘You need to believe in what you are providing over time, because if the value is ten times higher than the cost, then you should not be having a cost-focused discussion.’

This blog only skims the surface of the conversation we had with Seth and Reduan. To hear more from them both on Telenor Group’s refreshing perspective towards Industry 4.0 solutions, listen to our Accelerators podcast now.


  • Michal Harris
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