Thailand's emergency cell broadcast system to launch in early 2025

Thailand's emergency cell broadcast system is designed to send alerts to mobile users in specific areas affected by urgent and critical events, including violence, shootings and natural disasters.

Gigi Onag, Senior Editor, APAC

July 11, 2024

3 Min Read
Thailand Cell Broadcast System
(Source: True Corporation)

Thailand's emergency cell broadcast system will reportedly be launched early next year, several months ahead of the schedule announced last week by the country's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

The system is designed to send alerts to mobile users throughout Thailand in specific areas affected by urgent and critical events, including violence, shootings and natural disasters.

Quoting government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke, the Bangkok Post said that the launch of the emergency alert system had been brought forward following successful ground tests.

After successfully testing the system in a lab in January and again in March, Thai telecom operator True Corporation conducted a live test with real users on July 3, the first in the country. Telco rival AIS tested the cell broadcast system without users in March.

True's latest trial of the system was witnessed by NBTC executives and their counterparts from other government agencies, including the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES) and the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM).

Thailand's telecommunications regulator said during the trial that the cell broadcast system "is expected to be ready for use in mid-2025."

Phone numbers not needed

Related:Thailand to set up a cell broadcast emergency warning system

The cell broadcast system is designed to send near real-time direct alert messages from area basestations to all cell phones in the area. The message is displayed as a pop-up notification on the mobile phone screen.

Unlike regular SMS, the system does not require phone numbers, allowing emergency messages to spread quickly throughout the affected area. In addition, mobile phone users do not need to download special applications and can receive alerts even when their device is turned off.

The system can send alerts in five languages simultaneously: Thai, English, Chinese, Japanese and Russian. The messages also appear in the form of images and audio.

Two-part system

The cell broadcast system consists of two parts: the Cell Broadcast Entities (CBE) system, which is managed and supervised by the government's central command center, and the Cell Broadcast Center (CBC) system, which is managed and supervised by the mobile operators.

According to the NBTC, the CBE system defines the content and delivery areas for messages and consists of various functions such as system management, message creation and approval. The CBC system controls the delivery of messages to basestations according to specified areas, which include system management and configuration, message delivery function and network management.

The cell broadcast system in Thailand was first proposed by the MDES in October 2023, following a shooting at Siam Paragon Mall that killed two people and injured five others.

In February, MDES Minister Prasert Jantararuangthong told local media that Thailand's major telecom operators would need to invest 300 million baht (US$8.36 million) each to set up their own cell broadcast centers to serve the system. He estimated that each cell broadcast center would take more than six months to install. The ministry, on the other hand, would have to spend 400 million baht ($11.14 million) to set up its own cell broadcasting unit.

In its July 7 report, the Bangkok Post said the government has yet to set up its own command center. The budget for the deployment of the CBE system will come from the Universal Service Obligation and Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund.

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About the Author(s)

Gigi Onag

Senior Editor, APAC, Light Reading

Gigi Onag is Senior Editor, APAC, Light Reading. She has been a technology journalist for more than 15 years, covering various aspects of enterprise IT across Asia-Pacific.

She started with regional IT publications under CMP Asia (now Informa), including Asia Computer Weekly, Intelligent Enterprise Asia and Network Computing Asia and Teledotcom Asia. This was followed by stints with Computerworld Hong Kong and sister publications FutureIoT and FutureCIO. She had contributed articles to South China Morning Post, TechTarget and PC Market among others.

She interspersed her career as a technology editor with a brief sojourn into public relations before returning to journalism, joining the editorial team of Mix Magazine, a MICE publication and its sister publication Business Traveller Asia Pacific.

Gigi is based in Hong Kong and is keen to delve deeper into the region’s wide wild world of telecoms.

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