State workers to receive free internet during crisis

State workers to receive free internet during crisis

DES Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta says some departments of the ministry will start working from home on Friday.
DES Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta says some departments of the ministry will start working from home on Friday.

The government is working with four digital platform providers and six telecom operators to provide free downloadable online platforms and free internet airtime for state officials and state enterprise employees so they can work from home during the coronavirus outbreak.

The move came after a week of meetings between the Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry and private companies.

Yesterday's cabinet meeting also endorsed a move to enable state agencies to explore ways to work from home.

A total of 24 ministries are required to report the details of their units to the cabinet next week to enable them to work from home.

DES Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta said some departments of the ministry will start working from home on Friday. About 60% of DES officials are considered able to work from home, he said.

The cooperation was announced in a press briefing yesterday.

The event was attended by four digital platform providers -- Google Thailand, Microsoft Thailand, Line Thailand and Cisco Thailand -- as well as six telecom operators: Advanced Info Service (AIS), True Move H Universal Communication (TUC), Total Access Communication (DTAC), TOT, CAT Telecom and 3BB.

Under the cooperation, state officials are allowed to download free online platforms from the four providers, including Microsoft Team, Webex by Cisco, Hangouts by Google and Line. These platforms will support their online work and e-document procedures.

The six telecom operators, meanwhile, will provide free internet services for officials for three months via fixed and mobile broadband.

Mr Buddhipongse said state agencies and state enterprises will have to provide the details of departments and units, as well as the number of officers and their IP addresses, to the National Digital Economy and Society Committee for the manoeuvre.

The committee's secretary-general will collect the details and report to the cabinet next week, he said.

Mr Buddhipongse said more than half of the state agencies' working procedures could be handled anywhere via telecom infrastructure.

Regarding some legal hindrances to online work, the government will iron out regulations to ensure that online working procedures and resolutions will not face a legal backlash, he said.

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