THE National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission office will propose to the watchdog’s telecom committee a plan to roll out a broadband Internet network in almost 4,000 villages at a cost of Bt11.5 billion.
The project would be funded by the watchdog’s universal service obligation (USO) fund, NBTC deputy secretary-general Korkij Danchaivichit said.
He added that the NBTC office draw up this project after meeting with ACM Prajin Juntong, deputy prime minister and acting Digital Economy and Society minister recently.
If approved, it would be a collaboration between the regulator and the Digital Economy and Society Ministry to promote broadband service access to remote areas.
The NBTC would install broadband Internet in 3,920 villages, including the establishment of Internet centres in schools with between five and 11 desktop computers per school.
The Internet connection speed would be 30/10 megabits per second.
Korkij said the NBTC planned to soon hire a consultant to study the project before the drafting of its terms of reference (ToR) the NBTC’s board approved the initiative.
If the telecom committee approves the proposal, the NBTC office would send the proposal to the Broadcasting and Telecommunica-tions Research and Development Fund (BTFP) panel for its consideration and then to the NBTC board for final approval.
The planned ToR would divide the broadband Internet network installation zones into four geographical areas, with telecom |operators invited to bid for the project.
Currently the USO fund, which is part of the BTFP fund, has Bt24 billion in cash.
According to the government plan, there are 74,987 villages, which can be divided into an A and B class and a C and C-plus class.
The zone A and B covers 30,635 villages, which already have access to broadband Internet, while the zone C and C plus consists of 44,352 villages that do not.
The NBTC would roll out broadband Internet in all 3,920 villages in the C-plus zone.
Earlier the government assigned the Digital Economy and Society Ministry to take care of zone C, which totals 40,342 villages.
The ministry invited telecom operators to join the bid for the roll out of broadband internet in the zone but only TOT did so. As a result, the ministry will scrap the bid and will draft a new ToR.
The ministry will spend Bt13 billion in covering 24,000 villages in zone C with broadband Internet in the first phase.
It is expected to assign the NBTC to install the broadband Internet network in the remaining 10,000 villages of zone C.
The National Council for Peace and Order recently allowed the NBTC to use the USO fund to develop telecom projects for the public. In 2014 the NCPO told the NBTC to suspend its plan to use the USO fund, pending its complete scrutiny of the NBTC’s overall budget spending.