New cable plan to boost internet link
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New cable plan to boost internet link

Photo shows how a submarine cable is laid, with a mother ship to pay out the actual cable, and crews in smaller boats ensuring a smooth operation. (Photo courtesy Loxley Wireless)
Photo shows how a submarine cable is laid, with a mother ship to pay out the actual cable, and crews in smaller boats ensuring a smooth operation. (Photo courtesy Loxley Wireless)

The government is planning to make a new investment in submarine cable to secure Thailand's position as a link of international "internet paths" between Europe and Hong Kong under Thailand's broadband development to support its ambitious digital transition.

The move follows the recent visit of Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak to China where he discussed a plan to make a digital link between Bangkok and Beijing.

Such a connection must be built via Hong Kong, which is known to be a "hub of many things", said Digital Economy and Society Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj.

His ministry intends to build a new submarine cable by linking it with AAE-1 (Asia-Africa-Europe-1), an undersea cable that connects France, the Middle East and Asian regions, including Southeast Asia.

Instead of laying the new cable down to Malaysia for international broadband connection, a link with AAE-1 via a submarine cable station in Satun in the Andaman Sea and a ground station in Songkhla on the eastern coast will help Thailand easily link with Hong Kong by cutting the distance by 1,000 kilometres.

"This will give us the shortest internet path to Hong Kong," Mr Pichet said.

"It will become another main cable route."

The website Retail Asia revealed last week that the cabinet recently approved a 5 billion baht investment in the system but did not reveal the decision.

The investment will be handled by state-owned operator CAT Telecom via the Neutral Gateway Network & Data Center project, Retail Asia said.

Mr Pichet said last month the ministry is drawing up a master plan for the cable project, and also aims to attract foreign investors to the project.

The ultimate aim is to use technology, which links people with the worldwide web via internet cables, to bolster online activities carried out by the government, businesses and householders.

The more activities done using a cable, which transmits gigabytes of data, the more important the cable will be, Mr Pichet said.

Currently the government is pushing ahead three internet-based projects -- e-commerce, e-government and e-health -- to increase traffic volumes of data.

His ministry is urging retailers in communities countrywide to do their businesses online because up to 24,700 villages are now under the government's plan to have access to high-speed internet before December.

The state-owned Thailand Post Co, with 5,000 branches of post offices and 24,000 postmen, will be also asked to help distribute communities' products via emails as well as teach retailers ways to make and develop web pages to sell their goods, he said.

This e-commerce project will complete on-going state efforts to digitalise activities across sectors.

Last month the Electronic Government Agency announced a plan to have government-issued citizen identity papers go electronic to cut red tape under the e-government scheme.

Earlier in January, authorities started a fully-integrated electronic health record EHR system to facilitate people's access to health services online.

Hong Kong came to the government's attention after Mr Somkid's visit there between April 26 and 29. One of his goals is to invite Hong Kong businessmen to invest in the Digital Park Thailand project.

Dubbed "Thai Silicon Valley", Digital Park Thailand, to be located on 700 rai of land in Chon Buri's Sri Racha district, aims to use digital technology to support the manufacture of new-generation products including smart electronics and modern cars under the government's much-promoted Eastern Economic Corridor.

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