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Thailand govt partners telcos to speed up Wi-Fi project

Major Thai telcos have collaborated with the country's ICT Ministry by providing financial sponsorship and helping with rollout of public free Wi-Fi network.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

Thailand's Information and Communications Technology (ICT) ministry has collaborated with major telcos to accelerate the rollout of free public Wi-Fi networks next year.

According to The Bangkok Post on Saturday, Anudith Nakornthap, Thailand's ICT minister, said the government decided to use a public-private partnership to speed up the expansion of public Wi-Fi network. All participants under the project also plan to have at least 250,000 Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide by 2013 and 400,000 by 2015, he said.

In addition to a 950 million baht (US$30.78 million) funding from telecom watchdog National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) in October, the public Wi-Fi project will also be financially sponsored by Advanced Info Services (AIS), Total Access Communication (DTAC), and True Move along with state-owned Telecom of Thailand (TOT) and CAT Telecom.

AIS and True Move will install 50,000 hotspots, while CAT Telecom and TOT will set up 30,000 and 22,000 respectively. DTAC and the NBTC will install the remaining 98,000 hotspots. The public Wi-Fi network will cover schools, hospitals, tourist attractions, government agencies and transport hubs.

Mobile operators will also benefit from the nationwide Wi-Fi network, as it could offload some traffic from their 3G networks while their users are on the go, Anudith noted.

Previously, the Wi-Fi project was only supported by the country's ICT Ministry, who announced in late December last year it will offer free public Wi-Fi in greater Bangkok area. After three years, the ministry would hand the service over to TOT and CAT Telecom to manage the free Wi-Fi.

Additional expenses for One Tablet per Child project
Anudith further added the ICT Ministry plans to spend an extra 890 million baht (US$29.1 million) next year to expand the network to another 30,000 schools around the country to support the government's One Tablet per Child project.
Under the project, the additional 1.6 million tablets will be purchased for students at a cost of 4.48 billion baht (US$146 million). The terms of reference and specifications of the tablet project for 2013 will be concluded next month, Anudith added.

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