TOT will go it alone on village broadband network
The government has officially ordered TOT Plc to build a national broadband network across 30,000 villages on its own, part of a plan to provide affordable high-speed internet to poor households in rural areas.
The state previously wanted TOT and CAT Telecom Plc to jointly take charge of the 15-billion-baht national broadband project.
The order was made last month after the two state telecom enterprises submitted their plans for the project.
"Given TOT's existing extensive telecom infrastructure, the government decided to choose only TOT to take responsibility for the project," said Information and Communication Technology Minister Uttama Savanayana.
The government wants CAT to focus on further investment in its international internet gateway (IIG) to serve the state's policy of promoting the country as a digital hub in Asean.
Mr Uttama said TOT planned to offer at least 20 megabytes per second for download service with affordable tariff plans.
Construction of the national broadband network is expected to conclude by May 2017.
There are 79,000 villages nationwide, 44,000 of which already have broadband internet access.
The state will also provide free broadband internet connectivity to public places in all villages, Mr Uttama said.
The national broadband project is expected to attract private-sector investment, he said.
CAT plans to invest 5 billion baht in building more IIG infrastructure. Thailand has 10 active IIGs in its infrastructure out of 17 in total, allowing more than 100 internet connections.
In the past nine years, Thailand's international internet traffic grew by 81% to two terabits a second in August 2015. The rate is expected to reach 38 terabits a second by 2020.
The cabinet last December set aside 20 billion baht for the ICT Ministry to build national broadband infrastructure to provide affordable internet to all villages nationwide.
The broadband network will cost 15 billion baht and the IIG 5 billion.
The 20Mbps broadband internet speed for villages is in line with a five-year master plan to develop the country's hard infrastructure, aiming to boost the minimum standard for broadband speed nationwide.