Village internet scheme completed
Next phase to focus on fostering e-commerce
State enterprise TOT has finished construction of the national broadband network for 24,700 villages nationwide (the Pracha Rat internet project), two weeks ahead of the deadline set by the government.
The government plans to officially kick off the second phase of the project with community e-commerce ecosystems across the country in early 2018, serving the Thailand 4.0 policy to complement the broadband backbone.
President Monchai Noosong said TOT began installing the national broadband network in April through eight private companies that bid to supply fibre-optic cable and equipment.
The project required five key hardware components for the broadband network: fibre-optic cable; optical line terminals; distribution networks; indoor and outdoor switching systems; and wireless access points.
TOT also hired 500 subcontractors working on a variety of jobs, including installation of fibre-optic cables, WiFi hotspots and electricity supply systems.
Mr Monchai said the project installed fibre-optic lines, wireless access points and free WiFi hotspots in villages.
The project lets TOT and private companies develop last-mile internet access to provide commercial broadband service in these areas.
Interested internet companies have to connect to TOT's optical line terminals (OLTs) and pay rental fees to TOT.
Digital Economy and Society (DE) Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj previously said he wanted to see affordable prices for commercial broadband packages in remote areas.
He outlined a tariff rate between 349 and 399 baht a month with a download speed of 30Mbps and an upload speed of 10Mbps.
Mr Monchai said the rate mentioned by the DE minister was relatively tough for TOT to provide, and more difficult for private companies.
He said if TOT is ordered to provide an exact rate for commercial broadband packages, it may have to discuss the matter with the DE Ministry.
"Before providing commercial service to the areas under the brand of TOT, it also has to set the rental fee rate for the network connection to private internet companies that are interested in providing services in the 24,700 villages," Mr Monchai said.
Mr Pichet said earlier that the government would develop a community e-commerce ecosystem nationwide to create value for sustainable rural development.
The DE Ministry through Thailand Post aims to create 10,000 registered community e-commerce units by the end of 2018 and increase the number to 25,000 by 2020.
The ministry is collaborating with the Education, Commerce and Agriculture ministries to help improve e-commerce skills and knowledge for e-commerce adoption in rural areas.
There are now eight units in Nan province acting as community e-commerce centres, which will increase to 200 in the North by the end of this month.