STATE telecommunication enterprise TOT hopes to provide access to 4,000 villages by the middle of next year as part of the first phase of its nationwide broadband Internet network roll-out, Digital Economy and Society Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj said yesterday.
The government has assigned TOT to connect 24,700 villages countrywide by the end of next year at a cost of Bt9 billion.
TOT president Montchai Noosong said procurement for the project would commence soon.
TOT plans to offer the best-priced high-speed Internet packages for the villages after completing the backbone installation.
The ministry will allow other telecom operators to use TOT’s backbone infrastructure to offer services to villages in competition with TOT.
TOT will also have to allocate at least one free broadband connection spot in each of these 24,700 villages.
The Cabinet approved this broadband connectivity project early last month. The infrastructure will become the ministry’s asset.
The ministry and the National Broadcasting and Communications Commission have formed a panel to determine the areas where the broadband connectivity will be installed. It found 40,432 villages with no broadband access. Of them, 24,700 villages will be connected by TOT and 15,732 by the NBTC.
Yesterday the ministry, TOT, the Metropolitan Electricity Authority and the Provincial Electricity Authority signed an agreement to use the two electricity utilities’ power poles as part of the village Internet project.
Pichet said his ministry planned to develop services related to this village network project, such as an e-health service, which it will launch with the Public Health Ministry on January 5.