$578 million drive to connect all villages
BANGKOK (The Nation/ ANN) - The digital economy and Society (DE) Ministry says more than Bt20 billion (US$578 million app.) is being spent to ensure that every village in the country has access to broadband Internet by the end of next year. It also plans to see 500,000 jobs in the digital workforce developed within five years.
DE Minister Pichet Durong-kaveroj said the nationwide broadband network would provide download speeds of at least 30 megabits per second and free Wi-Fi to all 74,965 of the country’s villages.
The network already covers 43,533 villages.
Of the remaining number, TOT will provide coverage to 24,700 by the end of this year. The remaining 15,732 villages will be covered by |the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, which is expected to be implemented by the end of next year.
Meanwhile, the DE Ministry plans for businesses in remote areas to be able to sell their products online. It will provide an e-commerce platform and an e-payment system to communities so that they can create and develop online businesses.
The ministry says it will also provide an e-health system so that people living in remote communities can access quality public healthcare.
The DE Ministry will also get behind the development of 500,000 digital jobs, for a full range of people from students to experts and digital professionals. It begin grooming students for the digital workforce by developing a master plan to set up start-up clubs in secondary schools.
Pichet said Thailand had potential to encourage more start-up businesses in such areas as agriculture, food, tourism and cultural services. The country now has around 5,000 start-ups, mostly in financial technology. The ministry expects that by the end of this year, 5,000 more start-ups will be set up.
Loans to start-ups
The ministry will also work together with state-owned financial institutions including Government Savings Bank, Krungthai Bank and SME Development Bank to provide loans to support start-ups. Each bank has a budget to provide loans to start-ups totalling Bt2 billion this year.
“We will help start-ups in terms of public-private collaboration, such as with Internet service providers, telecom operators and bank and financial industries, so as to create a sustainable start-up ecosystem that benefits the private sector, the public sector and society,” Pichet said.
He said the ministry was also in the process of setting up Digital Park Thailand in Chon Buri province as a national centre for digital innovation and research. The park is being established on a 700-rai (112-hectare) plot held by CAT Telecom in Sri Racha district.
Once complete, the park will have three main components: an innovation and digital centre, a research centre, and a facility centre.
The innovation and digital centre will invite local and international companies to develop hardware and software. The research centre will invite local and international firms to develop new innovations such as intelligent closed-circuit TV, Internet of Things and cloud computing.
Meanwhile, the facility centre will provide residential areas for Thais and foreigners participating in the digital park.
“I think Digital Park Thailand will be at the forefront of digital innovation that connects to the world and will be a centre that transfers technology innovated by international companies and developers to local digital developers,” Pichet said.