The Thailand government has announced plans to expand fiber-optic networks throughout the country to strengthen the backbone telecom infrastructure and make it capable to handle data from various communication services. Thailand’s government will invest an approximate amount of US$ 1.1billion to strengthen the broadband backbone. The government plans to increase data speeds by more than 400 percent and this will be extended across the country.
Political unrest and uncertainty in government policies had delayed Thailand’s progress in ICT for a while. The south-east Asian nation toppled in civil unrest could not plan and proceed with solid plans to deploy broadband networks. In an attempt to recover from the past sluggish developments in broadband, Thailand’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) plans to deploy high-speed fiber-optic broadband networks across the country. MICT’s plans include deployments to the villages as well with minimum speeds of 30Mbps. Around 70,000 villages in the country will be covered in the plan according to a report prepared by the Oxford Business Group.
The goal is to have full national coverage by 2017. Thailand ranks eighth in Asia and 52nd worldwide for its average broadband internet speed, according to Ookla, a US network diagnostics company. Thailand government is also working to expand 4G services, with spectrum auctions for the 900MHz and 1.8GHz bands conducted late last year. The government authorities view the digital economy as an opportunity to promote lifelong learning and a vehicle for economic growth for Thai entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises.
The 20-year digital economy plan focuses on building a nationwide advanced broadband network, promoting a digital technology-based economy and society, creating public e-services, developing human resources competent in the digital economy and society, and creating public confidence in the use of digital technology. Currently, the plan has four phases such as;
- building digital infrastructure
- entering the digital economy and society
- full digitization of the country
- using digital technology to drive Thailand towards being a developed country
In order to achieve the above, the Thailand government plans to build broadband fixed-line and wireless access points across the country, double the capacity of the submarine cable network, and promote the opening of at least 10,000 small and medium-sized online shops. To achieve this plan, an investment of up to the US $1.42 billion is required. The government has allocated US$570 million to build national broadband infrastructure to provide affordable broadband internet access to 79,000 villages nationwide.
A study by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) suggests that the 4G services will boost Thailand’s economy by an estimated US$28billion over the next five years. The MICT also announced plans to build 10,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in rural areas to help people connect to the internet. Investment in broadband networks would provide more business chances to fiber optic products and service providers both in Thailand and outside.