The Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) have agreed to set up a joint committee to ramp up efforts to move overhead telecom cables underground.
The committee comprises the management of four parties -- National Telecom (NT), the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), the BMA and its construction and investment arm Krungthep Thanakom (KT).
NT is now perceived to be in pole position to provide its underground cable conduits to serve the project as it already has conduits spanning 3,000 kilometres in Bangkok.
DES Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn held a meeting on Monday with Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt, NBTC management and NT executives to find a way to accelerate efforts to bring overhead cables underground and eliminate unused lines of cable.
Mr Chaiwut said the collaboration is needed from the four parties, particularly the BMA which has the authority for all of Bangkok's sidewalks. The NBTC is also in charge of governing the telecom industry.
Previously, the government assigned state telecom enterprise TOT and KT to join forces to accelerate the effort, but the project is still moving at a slow pace, partly due to the impact of the pandemic. TOT and CAT Telecom merged to become NT in January 2021.
Mr Chadchart said cable clutter is one of the most critical problems of Bangkok that people want the authorities to deal with as quickly as possible.
The BMA has the right to enforce the law to deal with the issue, he said.
Two solutions could be adopted for the task. One is to group overhead cables in a tidy way and another is to move some of the cables underground.
"KT and NT need to hold discussions to find a practical solution," said Mr Chadchart.
Morakot Thienmontree, senior executive vice-president of NT, said many routes of TOT conduits need fixing and risers which link the cables with buildings with the conduits need to be installed.
The installation of risers requires approval from the BMA, which is charge of Bangkok's roads and sidewalks.
The rental fee for TOT's conduits has dropped to less than 4,000 baht per km per subduct per month, less than half of the previous rate of 9,650 baht per km per subduct per month, he said.
One conduit has three subducts inside and one subduct has three microducts inside.
KT earlier proposed providing conduits with a rental rate of 7,000 baht per km per month per microducts.
Mr Morakot said NT has uploaded mapped locations of TOT's existing conduits on its website.
NBTC acting secretary-general Trairat Viriyasirikul said the NBTC pledged to spend 10 billion baht to subsidise the project, which it would propose to its board for consideration.
Previously, NBTC planned to group overhead cables into proper tubes over a distance of 800 km by year-end.