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Thailand gives $30M boost for free Wi-Fi project

Country gives greenlight for funds to support public Wi-Fi project, and will consider expanding number of hotspots from 20,000 to 150,000 over next three years.

Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) committee has agreed to grant 950 million baht (US$30.78 million) to support the country's existing free Wi-Fi project.

The committee, which oversees funding for the development of telecoms and broadcasting in the country, also added that on Oct. 10, it will consider granting the funding for the roll-out of its free Wi-Fi service in up to 150,000 new spots over the next three years, The Nation reported on Monday.

Currently, the free Wi-Fi project is supported by the country's Information and Communications Technology Ministry, who announced in late December last year it will offer free public Wi-Fi in greater Bangkok area . The ministry had also asked NBTC for financial support to promote its existing free Wi-Fi service to ensure equal telecom access nationwide.

Of the total amount allocation, 50 million baht (US$1.88 million) will be provided to the ministry this year and the remainder in 2013. After three years, the ministry will hand the service over to Telecom of Thailand (TOT) and CAT Telecom to manage the free Wi-Fi.

According to the report, the ministry finished installing 30,000 spots across the country this year and plans to expand that to 250,000 spots in the future. It also aims to arm at least 80 percent of the population with broadband network by 2015, according to a separate report by Pattaya Today.

Thailand is also gearing up for a 3G spectrum auction , where it is scheduled to announce qualified bidders on Oct. 10, and the winners on Oct. 22.

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