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National data center planned for digital economy

The government plans to enlist the private sector to help it fund and build a US$1.23 billion national data center to support the development of the digital economy, as a deputy prime minister vowed last week that every community would have high-speed Internet access by the end of 2016. 
 
Deputy Prime Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula, who oversees the economic ministries, said the national data center would support the digital economy initiative by boosting Internet access nationwide, which in turn would boost the nation’s competitiveness.
 
Pridiyathorn said the government would rely on the private sector to fund the national data center.  “The investment money will not come from the government.  The private sector will be invited to invest in the project,” he said, adding the project would be completed in late 2016.
 
He added that the government's ad hoc committee working on preparations for the digital economy decided last week to resume a planned auction of spectrum licenses for 4G wireless broadband service, and the auctions should be completed in August.
 
Technological readiness was described as a weak point in the Kingdom’s competitiveness in the most recent Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF).  The WEF ranked Thailand 65th in the world in that category, but noted it had moved up 13 places since the previous report.  The jump signaled that Thailand is improving in this area, which includes several aspects of the digital economy, but still has a significant degree of improvement to make.  The assessment was completed before the current government assumed office.
 
As of 2014, Thailand’s Internet penetration rate was 26 percent of the population, or about 17.8 million out of 67 million people. Mobile Internet penetration stood at 24 percent, and Thais spent an average of five hours and seven minutes each day using mobile Internet services.
 
In the Southeast Asian region, that put the Kingdom well ahead of Indonesia, but far behind Singapore in all categories.  Internet penetration for the entire Southeast Asian region has been measured at 25 percent of the total population.  About 2.4 billion people worldwide have Internet access out of a population of over 7 billion, meaning that Southeast Asia trails the global average.
 
Pridiyathorn pledged that every village in Thailand would have access to high-speed Internet by the end of 2016, and that every household would have access to it by the end of 2017.
 
The government’s first step towards achieving that goal will be to conduct a survey of network infrastructures and fiber-optic-network providers to ensure the goal is feasible.
 
See the original article at Thailand e-newsletter

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