Broadband to reach 70,000 villages in 2016

Economy January 15, 2016 01:00

By Usanee Mongkolporn

The Nati

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The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission and the Information and Communications Technology Ministry will collaborate to provide to all 70,000 villages nationwide broadband connections to the Internet this year with an initial budget of



 

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission and the Information and Communications Technology Ministry will collaborate to provide to all 70,000 villages nationwide broadband connections to the Internet this year with an initial budget of Bt38 billion.

The links will be via both wireless and fixed-line broadband access points.

The spending will also cover the roll-out of such access in key locations such as hospitals and the improvement of the service quality and connection speed of the current coverage in 27,000 villages.

The ICT Ministry will contribute Bt20 billion to the project, which will be allocated from the Bt80.78 billion total upfront fees paid by the winners of the 1,800-megahertz licence auction last November.

The NBTC’s Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund will chip in the remaining Bt18 billion.

However, the ministry might scale down the budget if it is found later that the investment will be overlapping.

Sukit Khamasundara, a member of the NBTC, said yesterday that the regulator would be responsible for expanding the broadband service throughout the country at public health centres, schools and local administration organisations, in five years.

The ministry will focus on installing fixed and wireless broadband access in 40,000 villages at a cost of Bt15 billion and install a new international Internet gateway for Bt5 billion.

A joint committee will be set up to coordinate this project and reduce redundancies.

ICT Minister Uttama Savanayana said his ministry would submit this plan to the Ad Hoc National Digital Economy Committee, which is chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in its next round of meetings next month.

Nearly two years ago after the military seized power in a coup, its National Council for Peace and Order froze the USO Fund’s spending plans as part of its suspension of all state projects worth over Bt1 billion.

If the panel approves the project, the USO Fund will be able to use its money for this mission.

According to the USO Fund’s original spending plan, it will use Bt16 billion to install the broadband access service nationwide with download speed of 30 megabits per second and upload speed of 5mbps, and Bt1.8 billion for launching public phone service. The projects will cover five years.

The NBTC’s major telecom-licence holders are required to contribute a certain amount of revenue to the USO Fund to develop telecommunication services in remote areas.