Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) plans to provide a three-year subsidy worth THB4 billion (USD124 million) for bringing fixed broadband services to 600,000 households in border villages from May 2019, aiming to bridge the digital divide. The subsidy plan is part of the Universal Service Obligation (USO) Net project to construct a fibre-optic network, free Wi-Fi hotspots and mobile access nodes, as well as public internet centres, for 3,920 border villages in 62 provinces nationwide. The USO Net project is scheduled to be completed in March. Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the NBTC, said the NBTC’s rules require project winners to provide broadband access at THB200 per month with a maximum speed of 30Mbps.
Meanwhile, Mr Takorn said the NBTC is on the verge of constructing a broadband network for a further 15,732 villages under the government’s Net Pracharat project which aims to deploy broadband infrastructure covering 40,432 villages nationwide. The first phase (covering 24,700 villages) was handled by TOT at an investment cost of THB15 billion, while the government assigned the NBTC to carry out the installation for the remaining 15,732 villages using the USO fund. Mr Takorn said the NBTC has already announced the winner of the project via an e-auction process and expects to sign an agreement for the construction in January. The second phase of the Net Pracharat project is scheduled to start providing network connectivity in May.