Public WiFi set to become standard on the BTS
The Telephone Organisation of Thailand (TOT) Plc has announced plans to conduct a public WiFi trial along the BTS Skytrain routes by September as a way of creating a new and sustainable source of revenue.
During the trial phase consumers will be able to connect for free on WiFi over the state telecom enterprise’s 2300-megahertz spectrum. The trial will last for three months and will operate between Bearing station and Mo Chit station, a total 22.2-kilometre network coverage.
Negotiations have been conducted for some months between BTS Group Holdings, the operators of the incredibly busy Skytrain network, and TOT. The state telecome has said it agrees to build WiFi networks along the BTS routes.
Under the agreement, TOT will invest 200 million baht on the trial phase of the project. BTS will pay TOT a network rental fee for WiFi access on a monthly or an annual basis.
TOT will also be able to provide its WiFi service on the network to condominiums and residential towers along the Skytrain routes and which lie within a 20-kilometre radius.
TOT has said it plans to charge a monthly fee of only 20 baht for its existing 3G customers who then access its WiFi service. At present TOT said it only has around 200,000 3G subscribers who spend an average of 200 baht per month.
Just how quick and ultimately effective the TOT WiFi service will be for Skytrain users remains to be seen.
The state telecom has announced it will not put much investment into the 3G mobile network because it is not able to compete with private mobile operators.
Instead, TOT plans to only focus on providing service in the areas with strong demand.
TOT has held 64MHz of bandwidth on the 2300MHz spectrum for some decades, which is currently unused. The frequency now serves transmission links for telecom services.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission announced in November last year that it had agreed to TOT’s proposal to develop its existing
2300MHz spectrum to provide a wireless broadband service until 2025.
The state agency is also on the verge of building a national broadband network which will enable affordable internet access to 39,000 villages nationwide. Of the 79,000 villages across the country, 40,000 are already supplied with a broadband internet connection, so there is still some way to go to connect the entire nation.
The government allocated 20 billion to the Information and Communication
Technology (ICT) Ministry to develop ICT-related projects and support digital economy policies.