LIVE FROM DIGITAL SOCIETIES POLICY FORUM, BANGKOK: Thailand’s government, understanding the power of the digital economy to spur innovation and reduce the gap between the rich and poor, is looking longer term and committed to providing broadband access to even the most remote parts of the country.
Pichet Durongkaveroj, Thailand’s minister of Digital Economy and Society (pictured), said the government plans to bring low cost broadband access to every village in Thailand by end-2018.
There are about 70,000 villages in the country. The government is implementing the broadband project in areas where there is no commercial potential for private companies to deploy services.
Pichet, who gave the keynote at the event today, noted infrastructure is “just the superhighway”, which is why the ministry is pushing a number of public services with the potential to improve the lives of citizens, including e-commerce initiatives for rural farmers and a nationwide digital health programme.
Thailand’s government announced in February its national broadband network will deliver internet service to 24,700 villages by end-2017, with a minimum speed of 30Mb/s. It conducted pilot projects in 99 villages across 13 provinces. About 27,000 villages had broadband access at the end of 2015.
The national broadband rollout is the foundation of the Digital Thailand plan, which aims to drive the development of the country’s digital services in all social-economic activities.
Pichet said the government is now working on a 20-year master plan, which includes Digital Thailand: “When you put digital in the equation, a five-year plan is no longer enough.”