Telcos urged to guarantee connectivity
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) and Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry have instructed telecom operators to ensure the availability of an internet signal to support people working from home and field hospitals following a fresh wave of infections.
NBTC acting secretary-general Trairat Viriyasirikul said mobile and internet service providers have been instructed to oversee the quality of their network bandwidth to support more users working from home.
The operators were also told to deploy network expansion vehicles to support field hospitals and organisations responsible for handling the pandemic.
"Communication is important during crisis and service providers must scale capacity as well as maintain and repair equipment to ensure networks are continuously available," he said.
DES Minister Chaiwut Thanakhamanusorn said the ministry had directed National Telecom (NT) to support the installation of WiFi and IP Phone systems as well as CCTV cameras at field hospitals catering to Covid-19 patients.
Between April 17-18, the installation of such equipment was made at 11 field hospitals countrywide.
Wasit Wattanasap, senior vice-president of Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS), the country's biggest telecom operator, said AIS engineering teams have already deployed mobile networks, fibre and WiFi signals at a field hospital in Bangkok -- Erawan 1 Hospital -- which began operations on April 13.
It has also installed high-speed internet at the Bangkok Arena, which has been converted into Erawan 2 field hospital.
Prathet Tankuranun, chief technical of Total Access Communication (DTAC), the third-largest mobile carrier, said the company has set up a rapid response team to enable deployment of high-speed internet within 24 hours.
The team is focusing only on field hospitals.
DTAC has sent engineers to survey network requirements and assess suitable support solutions for each provincial candidate location for field hospitals, he said.
The planned field hospitals will have capacities ranging from 100 to 500 beds.
Mr Prathet said that in 2020, data usage grew nine times faster in the provinces compared to Bangkok.
Moreover, smartphone penetration also grew three times faster in the provinces, reflecting the rise of users in rural areas.
True Corporation, another telecom operator, indicated it has deployed engineering teams to deploy vehicles fitted with mobile and WiFi network systems to field hospitals in Chiang Mai.