A Thai state-backed national broadband network enabling affordable internet access is scheduled to be rolled out over the next twelve months, with construction to be jointly handled by the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), according to ICT Minister Uttama Savanayana, quoted by the Bangkok Post. According to the minister, ‘All 70,000 villages nationwide will be able to access low-cost broadband internet service at minimum speeds of 30Mbps in the next twelve months.’ Mr Uttama also said he assigned the two state telecom enterprises – TOT and CAT Telecom — to help develop last mile infrastructure for wireless broadband access in rural areas.
Uttama added that cheap broadband internet access at 2,000 community-based ICT centres under the ICT Ministry is currently available, with such village centres to be expanded to 2,300 by this year’s end. The ICT Ministry has a fiscal 2015 budget of THB20 billion (USD550 million) to develop ICT projects and support digital economy policies. ‘The ministry will work closely with the NBTC to promote all ICT-related investment and activities including infrastructure, digital content and ICT-facilitated learning communities,’ the minister said.
NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said the regulator will take responsibility for providing telecom services in remote areas to narrow the digital divide in compliance with the Frequency Allocation Act, and noted that the watchdog has backed broadband internet network rollout in 7,000 districts nationwide via the NBTC’s universal service obligation (USO) budget. Mr Takorn echoed Mr Uttama in saying: ‘We aim to provide last-mile internet access to 70,000 villages nationwide over the next twelve months.’ The NBTC has allocated a budget of THB20 billion this year for USO funded projects.