NBTC endorses public warning system
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NBTC endorses public warning system

The board of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has approved in principle establishing a cell broadcast service (CBS) system to be installed and operated by telecom operators, according to Gen Sittichai Markkoonchorn, assistant to the NBTC chairman.

The cell broadcast technology allows emergency warnings to be sent to all devices connected to mobile networks within a specific target area.

The plan to establish an effective public warning system aims to improve safety for the public and tourists, particularly in the aftermath of violent incidents, shootings or natural disasters.

Creating a CBS system is expected to cost telecom operators a combined 1.03 billion baht over three years, he said.

The system is expected to be installed by the three major operators — Advanced Info Service (AIS), True Corporation and National Telecom.

The system permits a number of unacknowledged general messages to be broadcast to all receivers within a particular region.

The system differs from a regular SMS because it doesn’t require specified phone numbers, allowing for rapid and efficient communication of emergency information that covers the entire affected area.

People also do not need to download any specific apps.

Operation of the CBS technology is divided into two parts: a cell broadcast entity (CBE) system and a cell broadcast centre (CBC) system.

The CBE system is to be managed by the government’s central command centre, defining content and delivery areas for messages.

The CBC is managed by mobile phone operators, delivering messages to base stations in specified areas.

Gen Sittichai said the CBS system installation is expected to cost each mobile operator less than 400 million baht, which can be deducted from the universal obligation service annual fee each pays to the NBTC.

The first step is for the government to develop the central command centre, he said.

The centre’s CBE system is expected to require a budget of 434 million baht, said Gen Sittichai.

He said the government has to determine whether the Digital Economy and Society Ministry or the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation will operate the command centre to transmit warning messages to phones.

Recently the NBTC and AIS jointly demonstrated a trial of the CBS system to the public, aiming to prepare telecom operators for collaboration with the government’s command centre.

NBTC chairman Dr Sarana Boonbaichaiyapruck said earlier this standardised emergency alert system should reassure the public, enhance economic confidence and the tourism industry, and improve overall security.

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