Net Pracha Rat seeks to con­nect all vil­lages by May

Bangkok Post - - BUSINESS / NATIONAL - KOMSAN TORTERMVASANA

By next May, vil­lagers na­tion­wide will be able to use free WiFi hotspots af­ter the com­ple­tion of the sec­ond phase of the govern­ment’s na­tional broad­band net­work for vil­lages.

The project, known as Net Pracha Rat, is an ini­tia­tive un­der the Na­tional Broad­cast­ing and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion (NBTC), which yes­ter­day be­gan the process of seek­ing win­ners via e-bids for con­struc­tion con­tracts bud­geted at 19.7 bil­lion baht for the sec­ond phase cov­er­ing 15,723 vil­lages.

An agree­ment with the win­ners will be reached in Novem­ber, with con­struc­tion sched­uled to fin­ish by May 2019.

Ac­cord­ing to NBTC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Takorn Tan­t­a­sith, the sec­ond phase of Net Pracha Rat com­ple­ments the ex­ist­ing Net Pracha Rat project that de­liv­ers free WiFi and low-cost broad­band in­fra­struc­ture to more than 40,000 vil­lages that have not been given ac­cess to broad­band in­ter­net.

The first phase of con­struc­tion, cov­er­ing 24,700 vil­lages, was com­pleted by TOT at the end of last year.

The govern­ment as­signed the re­main­ing 15,723 vil­lages un­der the project to be ful­filled un­der the Dig­i­tal Thai­land trans­for­ma­tion roadmap.

The NBTC yes­ter­day of­fi­cially started the process to seek bid­ders to con­struct the broad­band in­fra­struc­ture within the com­mis­sion’s 19.7-bil­lion-baht bud­get.

Of the to­tal 15,723 vil­lages, they are 4,138 in the North, 2,050 in the South, 3,365 in the cen­tral and east­ern re­gions, and 6,170 in the North­east.

The sec­ond phase of the project com­prises a core five cat­e­gories: free WiFi for 15,723 hotspots; USO Net (high-speed in­ter­net and mo­bile ser­vice for bor­der ar­eas) at 228 schools to equip each with new build­ings, com­put­ers, last-mile in­ter­net ac­cess and WiFi; USO Net rooms in 1,623 schools, each to be pro­vided with com­put­ers, WiFi and last-mile in­ter­net ac­cess; free WiFi for 3,170 schools; and free WiFi for 91 districts at hos­pi­tals and last-mile in­ter­net at each of the hos­pi­tals.

Dur­ing the first five years af­ter de­ploy­ment, the NBTC will fund rou­tine op­er­a­tions of the in­fra­struc­ture, in­clud­ing main­te­nance.

“More than 10 mil­lion peo­ple in 15,723 vil­lages will ben­e­fit from the sec­ond phase of Net Pracha Rat,” Mr Takorn said.

The NBTC aims to at­tract bid­ders for con­struc­tion and de­ploy­ment of all five cat­e­gories of in­fra­struc­ture through eight con­tracts that will be of­fered un­der the e-bid auc­tion, clas­si­fied by vil­lage zon­ing.

Mr Takorn said com­pa­nies in­ter­ested in the project bids can down­load ap­pli­ca­tions from the Comptroller-Gen­eral’s Depart­ment web­site in the week ahead.

The NBTC’s bid­ding panel will con­sider each ap­pli­ca­tion dur­ing Sept 23-Oct 5 this year. Agree­ments with the win­ning bids will be signed by Novem­ber.

Mr Takorn said free WiFi hotspots for all 15,723 vil­lages will be com­pleted first, by May 2019, fol­lowed by all of the re­main­ing cat­e­gories by Au­gust 2019.

The NBTC has opened the floor to more than 60 tele­com li­censee com­pa­nies to bid on the project, with an em­pha­sis on tele­com li­censees of Type 3, mean­ing op­er­a­tors that have their own na­tion­wide ser­vice net­works.

The auc­tion is also open to Type 1 li­censees, which don’t have their own net­works and are mostly in­ter­net providers.

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