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The Digital Economy and Society (DE) Ministry yesterday rolled out the first phase of the national broadband network across 99 villages in 14 provinces, with the introduction of commercial, affordable high-speed internet service planned by year-end.

In each village, a WiFi hotspot will enable internet access free of charge.

The ministry will not provide broadband service directly to the public, but rather acts as a wholesaler to service providers both public and private, said DE Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj.

The government plans to install the broadband network in 24,700 villages to enhance the country's digital infrastructure, narrow the digital divide, reduce internet access costs and promote e-government and e-commerce initiatives.

Installation of the 15-billion-baht national broadband network across 24,700 villages is expected to conclude by year-end, Mr Pichet said.

"We aim to install the national broadband network across 40,432 villages," he said.

TOT expects to handle the installation in 24,700 villages. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) will handle the remaining 15,732 villages.

The regulator will use the universal service obligation fund for the investment.

TOT president Monchai Noosong said the state enterprise last week began selling bidding documents to suppliers of fibre-optic network equipment, drawing 18 prospective bidders.

All 18 companies will have to attend the bidders' conference with TOT executives on Feb 7 to allow TOT to clarify details regarding the auction, which is scheduled to take place on Feb 10.

The list of bid winners is expected to be announced by March, and they have to start supplying TOT their broadband equipment in April.

Broadband equipment includes fibre-optic networks, WiFi hotspot equipment and distribution panel boards, a component the electricity supply system that divides electrical power into subsidiary circuits while providing individual circuit breakers.

"We expect to secure a few bid winners to supply equipment at attractive prices," Mr Monchai said.

He said TOT aims to complete the construction of the national broadband network for at least 5,000 villages by June, and accomplish the entire network installation by year-end.

Mr Pichet said the national broadband project is part of the government's effort to provide affordable high-speed internet access to low-income rural households, in compliance with the nation's digital infrastructure development roadmap.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Komsan Tortermvasana

Quelle/Source: Bangkok Post, 04.02.2017

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