National Broadcasting and Telecommunications (NBTC
), Thailand has last week launched a campaign to boost computer literacy and bridge digital divide in rural areas.
In partnership with Intel Corporation, “Be Amazing” roadshow campaign will travel to 27 provinces to educate the public in the remote areas, particularly first-time users and college students, on the use and benefits of computers especially for education purpose. The roadshow will start from May 14 to the end of December 2013.
Computer makers participating in the campaign are Asus, Acer, Samsung, Lenovo and Toshiba along with the broadband providers TOT and Advanced Info Service.
Affordable prices device to be featured during the roadshow include THB 7,900 (US$ 263) tablets.
“Only 6 million of the 20 million Thai households own computers”, said Accharas Ouysinprasert, Intel Thailand Manager. Computer penetration is 90% of households in some developed countries.
Ouysinprasert said the campaign is expected to reach 550,000 households this year. Thailand’s telecom operators just kicked start official 3G services last week, following last month’s official approval from the government after ending the long complication.
Gen Sukit Khamasundara, NBTC Member said the launch of 3G and 4G service is expected to boost computer use to 80 per cent of total households.
He added that the NBTC is considering trimming down the universal service obligation (USO) fee from 3.75 per cent to 2 – 3 per cent in order to reduce the burden on licensees.
The USO fee is collected from telecom operators with an aim to provide services in rural areas where telecom investment is not commercially justifiable.
Under the USO master plan from 2012-16, the NBTC will spend 20 billion baht to install fibre-optic networks in rural areas to allow as many as 80% of the citizens to access broadband, up from 32% now.
The spending will cover implementation of the networks and community computer centres for 7,000 sub districts, up from 1,000 at present.