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Thai NBTC seeks nod for free 10GB during the current stay-at-home

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is seeking cabinet approval for providing mobile users with 10 free gigabytes of data usage per subscriber per month until 30 June 2020 as work from home measures are being adopted broadly in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

For fixed broadband service, existing household broadband subscribers would be supported in using the better capacity package without additional charges, though details of it have yet to be divulged.

Regarding fibre-to-the-home (FTTX) service, at least 100 megabits per second for download speeds must be ensured for household subscribers.

The Secretary-General of the NBTC, said the resolution, which was approved by the NBTC board on 23 March, was tabled before the cabinet meeting on 24 March 2020.

The move came after the special meeting, on 22 March, between the NBTC and mobile and telecom operators to seek ways to assist the public during this difficult time. The meeting was urged by Digital Economy and Society (DES) Minister.

The proposed assistance is expected to cost THB10 billion, or around THB3.5 billion per month.

The 10GB of data usage per mobile subscriber a month will be funded by the first instalment payments from the 5G spectrum license auction held last month.

The NBTC expects more than 50 million mobile subscribers would benefit from the assistance.

For fixed broadband, including ADSL, VDSL, copper as well as FTTX, telecom operators can deduct from the Universal Service Obligation (USO) fee they are normally required to pay to the regulator annually.

Operators now pay 2.5% of their yearly revenue to the NBTC.

The Minister stated that 2 million household subscribers for fixed-broadband services would be entitled to the assistance.

If the proposal is approved by the cabinet, the NBTC will hold a meeting with telecom operators to discuss the assistance.

The Chairman of the NBTC stated that supporting people staying at home and working helps combat the spread of Covid-19. This resolution would facilitate work from home measures urged by the government.

According to an earlier article, Thailand has been pushing working from home since the beginning of March, particularly for tech firms.

The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DES) is working with the private sector to promote working from home for employees as a solution to ensure seamless business operations amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

The DES Minister noted that the ministry is cooperating with private partners to develop and customise tools that enable people to work from home seamlessly and reduce the need to go out and risk the new coronavirus that has affected several industries in Thailand.

These partners include six internet service providers and three software developers.

The ministry is planning to develop tools based on Microsoft Team, WebEx Team and Hangout applications to ensure seamless business operations even when staff are working from their residences. Selected government agencies will take part in a pilot project.

The Internet and software providers have agreed to provide free services for six months that will cover the documentation system, the file storage system, video conference and other office administrative tasks.

The DES will also monitor the privacy and security of personal and sensitive information over this working-at-home network to ensure that the original privacy policy can still be maintained.

The DES has been strictly following measures announced by the Ministry of Public Health in preventing and controlling the spread of Covid-19, and it is hoped that the working-from-home solution will help reduce the risk of the virus spreading in the workplace while enabling businesses to move forward in the current situation.

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