Free internet for low-income earners in remote areas

Free internet for low-income earners in remote areas

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha visits an exhibition held by the NBTC at Government House on Tuesday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha visits an exhibition held by the NBTC at Government House on Tuesday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Some 1.8 million registered low-income earners in remote areas will have home internet for free for three years under a National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission project.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said on Tuesday as part of its Universal Service Obligation (USO) project aimed at bridging the digital divide, 6.3 million people, or 2.1 million households, in 3,920 remote villages will have internet access by next year.

From 2019-24, the NBTC will install 5,229 free public Wi-Fi access points in these villages. In addition, 1,210 schools and 107 tambon hospitals will have broadband links.

A total of 763 USO Net centres will also be built. Each will be equipped with 12 PCs and manned by IT technicians who can give technical advice to users.

For home internet, the villagers in remotes areas can subscribe to 30/10 Mbps internet service for 200 baht per month from May 1 next year to April 30, 2024.

Since some households currently cannot afford the fee, the NBTC will subsidise the 200-baht rate for three years or until April 30, 2022 for low-income earners in the areas who have registered with the government’s welfare card programme.

Under the USO project, all villages in Thailand will have access to broadband. The project groups 74,987 villages nationwide into economic areas (30,635 villages), rural areas (44,352) and remote areas (3,920).

Telecom companies are required to provide internet access to the economic areas and they have already completed the task.

For the rural areas, the Digital Economy Ministry is in charge of providing access to 24,700 villages while the NBTC takes care of the remaining 15,732 villages.

For the remote areas, the NBTC will have completed the task with the launch of the internet project for remote areas in May next year.    

Mr Takorn said the USO project will give all people equal access to new government services such as tele-education or remote learning; telehealth, which provides health care advice online, and telemedicine, which allows patients to consult doctors online.

The USO project is financed by the USO fund which is contributed by telecom operators as percentages of their revenue.

A map shows the remote areas under the USO project implemented by the NBTC. (Photo supplied by NBTC)

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