September 29, 2020

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Thailand to roll out free WiFi for select communities

The Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry announced plans to roll out free WiFi services for urban communities, starting with 10 communities from 1 October 2020.

CAT Telecom, the state-owned company that runs Thailand’s international telecommunications infrastructure, will be responsible for arranging the services, which will initially target five communities in Bangkok and five in provinces.

The scheme will provide a broadband internet speed at 300 megabits per second (Mbps) for download and 100mbps for upload. The programme is aimed at enabling people in dense communities to use WiFi for their daily life, particularly in the post-pandemic period.

The Minister of the DES stated that the ministry aims to give people free internet services to allow them to cope with difficulties doing business and in daily life in the digital era. CAT and the DES Ministry looked at 20 communities for the project, settling on 10 for the first batch. The project does not require much money to install routers, related equipment and platforms linked with CAT’s backbone infrastructure.

The National Digital Economy and Society Committee (NDESC), on 30 August 2020, launched the “smart sign-on” programme where people can carry out a one-time registration of the government’s existing free WiFi services through a web portal or the website.

In the past, people were required to register repeatedly for access to different WiFi service providers participating in the free public WiFi scheme. After being registered, users will receive their usernames and passwords.

The Secretary-General of the NDESC said the approach helps people gain access to free broadband internet services offered by different providers with one set of credentials only. The campaign is a cooperation between CAT, Advanced Info Service, True Corporation and the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission. Users can type “@TH Wi-Fi by … (internet provider)” and use the same username and password to log in.

The system will check the qualifications of the registrants for free WiFi services with the Department Of Provincial Administrative’s database. The first phase of the free public WiFi service was launched in 2017. Approximately 900,000 people have registered under the scheme, consisting of 340,000 people aged up to 21; 390,000 people aged 22-39; 130,000 people aged 40-54 as well as 40,000 people aged 55-99.

The aim is to avoid the hassles of using free WiFi that requires multiple registrations through different providers. Users can be assured of internet security when accessing free WiFi services thanks to CAT Telecom guidelines. People can access free public WiFi hotspots in community locations, such as educational institutes, government service facilities and bus stations as well as tourist attractions across the country.

According to an earlier article, The Nong Prue tambon, to the east of Pattaya City, will be the home of 10 new 5G WiFi “Smart Poles”.  The installation began in August 2020. The announcements were made by the Nong Prue Mayor and the team from the company that is installing the new towers and technology.

The Smart Pole setups will be installed near Soi Phon Prapa Nimit, Suthawart Temple Intersection, the Chalerm Phrakiet Intersection, Soi Nern Plubwarn, Soi Marb Yailearb 18/5, the town centre, Boon Sampan Market, Rattanakorn Market, Khao Talo Plaza and adjacent to The Chill. The Mayor stated that the areas have been chosen due to the population concentrations in the local community and providing the high-speed technology advantages of 5G to the broadest cross-section of the people living and working there.

The main advantages of 5G are greater data speed, lower or almost zero latency (lag) and greater capacity of remote execution of services, a greater number of connected devices and the possibility of implementing virtual networks (network slicing). Robust digital infrastructure is a must if Thailand, like all nations across the globe, is to emerge from its battle with the COVID-19 pandemic victorious.