Half of Thais now on the internet [Bangkok Post, Thailand]
(Bangkok Post (Thailand) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 07--The number of internet users in Thailand will reach 35 million this year or half the population, says the information and communication technology (ICT) minister.
Gp Capt Anudith Nakornthap said the figure marks an increase from 26.5 million users or 37.9% of the population last year and 9 million 12.9% in 2011.
His forecast is based on data from the World Economic Forum.
Gp Capt Anudith credited the rise to the availability of third-generation (3G) commercial service, cheaper smart devices, a greater variety of mobile applications and free public WiFi.
While the penetration rate for fixed-line internet remains low at 10% of the population, the penetration rate for mobile devices is 136%.
"This reflects a greater opportunity for mobile internet expansion," said Gp Capt Anudith.
He said the government is gearing up to expand free WiFi coverage in order to narrow the digital divide.
The ICT Ministry in conjunction with state enterprises and private telecom operators currently provides 140,000 free WiFi access points in 30,000 locations
The ministry plans to add a further 150,000 access points next year under a 950-million-baht budget sponsored by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission.
Gp Capt Anudith said Thailand's telecommunications infrastructure covers 87% of the population.
The ministry targets broadband network coverage to reach 80% of the country by 2015 and 95% by 2020.
This will boost internet access and increase the country's IT competitiveness to serve the Asean Economic Community, which takes effect in late 2015.
Further 3G mobile network expansion by the three major operators will only increase wireless data consumption and internet users, said Gp Capt Anudith.
He said his ministry is implementing its third master plan, covering 2014-18 and aimed at lifting Thailand's ICT ranking and competitiveness.
Gp Capt Anudith also outlined tasks for new ICT permanent secretary Surachai Srisaracam.
His responsibilities include formulating a manpower rotation policy, managing existing ICT activities promoting a national closed-circuit TV project and free public WiFi.
(c)2013 the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand)
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Distributed by MCT Information Services
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