Plans afoot for 250,000 WiFi hotspots

Plans afoot for 250,000 WiFi hotspots

Authorities and major mobile operators have joined forces to speed up the rollout of public WiFi networks nationwide next year.

DTAC chief executive Jon Eddy Abdullah shows a young student how to access the public WiFi service. The company is participating in a project that will blanket Thailand with WiFi hotspots by 2015.

Under the 2-billion-baht project, all participants plan to install a combined 250,000 WiFi hotspots nationwide.

Gp Capt Anudith Nakornthap, the information and communication technology (ICT) minister, said the government decided to use the public-private partnership model to speed up the public WiFi network expansion.

"We plan to have at least 250,000 WiFi locations by 2013 and 400,000 by 2015," he said.

The public WiFi project is financially sponsored by Advanced Info Service (AIS), Total Access Communication (DTAC) and True Move along with state-owned TOT Plc and CAT Telecom as well as the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

AIS and True Move are committed to installing 50,000 hotspots each, while CAT will set up 30,000 and TOT 22,000. DTAC and the NBTC will install the remaining 98,000 hotspots.

The free public WiFi network will cover schools, hospitals, tourist attractions, government agencies and transport hubs.

Gp Capt Anudith said mobile operators would benefit from the nationwide network as they could offload some traffic from their 3G networks while their users are on the go.

He said the ICT Ministry also plans to spend an additional 890 million baht next year to expand the network to another 30,000 schools nationwide in support of the government's One Tablet per Child project.

Gp Capt Anudith also said the terms of reference and specifications of the tablet project for 2013 will be concluded next month.

Under the project, an additional 1.6 million tablets will be purchased for Prathom 1 and Mathayom 1 students at a cost of 4.48 billion baht.

"We plan to use an e-auction system, opening for both local and foreign suppliers," Gp Capt Anudith noted.

Jon Eddy Abdullah, DTAC's chief executive, said the company will spend 12 million baht on the free public WiFi project next year, mainly in 12 public hospitals.

The Kasikorn Research Center forecasts upcoming full commercial 3G service will likely stimulate the Thai mobile industry, expected to be worth up to 215 billion baht next year. Wireless data service will make up 32.5% of the total.

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