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Thailand has announced its ambitious aim of introducing broadband access to every village in the country by 2018. The Thailand government has recognized the power of the digital economy in terms of creating innovation – which can significantly reduce the gap between rich and poor in the region. It has declared its long-term commitment to embracing technology and will attempt to bring connectivity to even the most remote parts of Thailand.

Thailand’s Minister of Digital Economy and Society, Pichet Durongkaveroj revealed the administration’s plans at a Digital Societies Policy Forum in Bangkok. He outlined that the government plans to provide low cost broadband access – in order to make it affordable for all the country’s residents. Thailand has around 70,000 villages, and experts have claimed the government is implementing the broadband project in areas where there is currently no commercial potential for private companies to deploy services.

The Minister who delivered a keynote at the conference highlighted that infrastructure is ‘just the superhighway’ which is why the administration is pursuing a number of public services aimed to improve and enhance the lives of its residents. In addition to the broadband project, the minister outlined that they planned to introduce e-commerce initiatives for rural farmers and a nationwide digital health program.

Thailand’s government has forecast that its national broadband network will deliver internet services to 24,700 villages by the end of 2017. It has already disclosed that it has conducted a series of pilot projects in 99 villages across thirteen provinces.

The national broadband rollout is the foundation of the Digital Thailand plan, which aims to drive the development of the country’s digital services in all social-economic activities. Pichet said the government is now working on a 20-year master plan, which includes Digital Thailand: “When you put digital in the equation, a five-year plan is no longer enough.”