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Failure to communicate

Posted by pakin On March - 30 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Thailand is in dire need of fourth-generation (4G) wireless broadband service.

Consider the following statistics.

Internet use in Thailand rose at the highest rate in the world last year, climbing 34 ranks in the latest global study conducted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Although Thailand started using 3G mobile services later than most countries, the conversion rate from 2G to 3G was the fastest in the world, with more than 2.85 million 2G subscribers switching to 3G in less than five months after commercial service began.

The Digital Advertising Association (Thailand) says as of last Sept 30, smartphone users accounted for more than 30% of the 100 million total mobile subscribers out of a population of 70 million.

There are 180 million voice calls and 250 million internet connections made daily over mobile networks. In addition, there are 33 million Line users in Thailand, making it the second-largest user base after Japan.

Thailand has the third-largest Facebook population in the world with 28 million users. Bangkok has more Facebook users than any other city in the world.

The country also has the second-highest number of YouTube video views in Asia, with 53% of users watching at least one video a day.

The 2014 Measuring the Information Society Report ranked Thailand’s internet use at 71st, up from 105th for 166 countries studied by the ITU.

The sharp rise in internet use in Thailand was partly supported by the allocation of the international-standard 2.1-gigahertz band for 3G mobile service and the increase in mobile internet use.

As a result of improvements in internet use, Thailand’s overall ICT Development Index (IDI) rating rose to 81st, up by 10 places. Besides internet use, the IDI also measures internet access and skills.

The study was in line with another last year by the World Economic Forum on ICT competitiveness through the Network Readiness Index, in which Thailand was ranked 67th, up from 74th in 2013.

The statistics indicated these technologies contained a wide range of benefits including making life easier, boosting productivity within industries across countries and enhancing the development of national telecommunications network infrastructure.

4G is the fourth generation of mobile telecommunications technology, which in addition to the usual voice and other services of 3G, provides mobile broadband internet access such as to laptops with wireless modems, to smartphones and to other mobile devices. Potential and current applications include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, videoconferencing, 3D television and cloud computing.

Broadly, 4G is 10-50 times faster than 3G, offering data download speeds of 300 Mbps on mobile handsets and 1 Mbps on fixed terminals.

The three major mobile operators Advanced Info Service (AIS), Total Access Communication (DTAC) and True Move have announced they are ready to invest in 4G to accommodate the explosive growth in mobile data traffic. These operators want the 4G spectrum auction to take place this year.

The government has acknowledged the influence 4G has on the country’s ICT infrastructure development and that it is essential to the country’s future social and economic development. It recently decided the 4G spectrum auction would take place this August, after suspending the auction for one year.

The government is being urged to put the unused 2300-MHz spectrum of TOT Plc and the 2600-MHz spectrum used by MCOT Plc into the auction together with the planned telecommunications spectra of 900- and 1800-MHz.

Global research firm IDC Thailand expects the 4G auctions will increase the country’s economic growth and stimulate private sector spending in ICT-related fields.

4G network infrastructure is also needed to serve the country’s digital economy development, says Neeranuch Kanokvilairat, senior market analyst for telecommunications at IDC Thailand.

She says the digital economy initiative will rely heavily on the technology infrastructure development of the country including network development of mobile phones and broadband internet.

“Strategic policies and a clear platform for future development must clearly be expressed by the government before moving ahead with its digital economy policy,” Ms Neeranuch says.

Thailand has an opportunity to enter the digital age immediately with state-of-the-art broadband networks that can spur innovation and economic development. But it is essential the government make adequate spectrum available to mobile operators for this purpose.

Allocating more spectra is an ideal way to jump-start the process, Ms Neeranuch says.

Bunyati Kirdniyom, head of regulatory affairs at Ericsson (Thailand), cites an internal survey that found Thailand’s telecommunications industry would need more spectra for future mobile broadband service to accommodate exponentially growing mobile data traffic.

“Alternative spectra that are currently idle or underutilised including by public agencies should be considered for reallocation to auctions that can generate greater benefits for the local telecom industry and enable operators to provide affordable services,” he says.

Other developed countries use various bands of frequencies in their telecommunications industry ranging from 700-, 1800-, 2100-, 2300-, and 2500-MH bands, Mr Bunyati says.

True Move chief executive Suphachai Chearavanont agrees the government should use multiple-band spectra for the 4G auction to accommodate rapid growth in Thai mobile data traffic.

“Multiple-band spectrum auctions will enhance the use of network resources and increase mobile data network capacity,” he says.

“The low band of spectra is better at penetrating obstacles and providing better signal quality, while the high band offered higher network capacity.”

Sigve Brekke, head of Telenor Asia, the major shareholder in Thailand’s DTAC, also supports multiple-band spectrum auctions to serve data-hungry consumers.

“At least 20 MHz of bandwidth is required to provide efficient 4G service,” he says.

AIS chief executive Somchai Lertsuthivong says the more spectra available, the greater the speeds and capacity of 4G services will be.

Somkiat Tangkitvanich, president of Thailand Development Research Institute, says if Thailand wants to embrace a new digital economy, the government must support the private sector’s development of the country’s ICT infrastructure.

The number of smart devices in Thailand is expected to surge to 65 million by 2019 from 30-33 million currently, he says.

“Any further delay in 4G auctions will only slow down the development of the nation’s digital infrastructure,” Mr Somkiat says.

Industry veterans say the painfully long time it took for 2G and 3G connections in Thailand should serve as a warning.

“Thailand needs to quickly adopt new 4G mobile technology if it wants the digital economy initiative to get off the ground to support the imminent launch of the Asean Economic Community,” says a telecom academic who asked not to be named.

MARTIAL LAW, which had raised concerns among local and international investors as increasing business risk for them, was in fact one of the factors that boosted confidence in the special economic zones in border areas, Deputy Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said last week.

Thailand is working to materialise a plan to become Asean’s economic hub. Several measures to encourage and facilitate investment in the SEZs are being discussed and on their way to being implemented, he said.

“The government aims to create a synchronised system of SEZs by providing them with sufficient infrastructure,” said Arkhom, who is also secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board.

The government plans to boost investor confidence in the SEZs by instituting policies to assure political stability, granting privileges to investors through the Finance Ministry and Board of Investment (BoI) and forging connectivity with neighbouring countries under the concept of “Thailand Plus One”.

Martial law, which covers the whole country, is a measure referred to as “draconian”, but it assures internal stability, enabling an environment that is friendly to economic activities.

“We have to look at martial law as a measure to build investor confidence, especially during this time,” he said.

The national process of reconciliation would certainly take time, but when the new charter goes into force, the situation will return to normal.

The economic policies of this government remain anchored on the same set of rules that assure investors of a suitable climate for investment.

“Recently, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) ratified the Cross Border Transport Agreement and adopted five bills to facilitate the free movement of goods,” he said.

As for the issues related to insurance for industries investing in border areas where martial law is still being implemented, the prime minister promises to find suitable solutions to respond to investors’ needs.

Only some groups of investors are worried about the consequences of martial law enforcement.

“Many business groups have been in Thailand for a long time and still remain here despite some ups and downs in Thai politics. This means it [martial law] does not have an impact,” he said.

Among all the incentives granted by the BoI, investors would be allowed to receive a waiver of corporate income tax and of import duties on machinery as well as permission to employ foreign workers in labour-intensive industries.

As an alternative to the BoI’s tax breaks, investors could also opt for incentives granted by the Finance Ministry, which would also allow a reduction in corporate tax from 20 per cent to 10 per cent for 10 years.

“Thailand Plus One” would accompany SEZ projects, so Thailand could forge more links with neighbouring countries.

“Any Asean investor can invest in the SEZs to receive privileges from Thailand plus bordering countries such as Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia,” he said.

Thailand Plus One is a strategic business model initiated by Japan’s corporations in 2012 to encourage investors to maintain their main operations in Thailand while diversifying supporting production in the supply chain to neighbouring countries for comparative advantage.

Areas such as Mae Sot and Aranyaprathet are pioneers in creating linkages among Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia.

Plans to build roads and other infrastructure would soon be implemented.

A tripartite working relationship between Japan, Thailand and Myanmar on the Dawei port project has been envisioned, with Thailand taking part in the first phase of road development.

Aranyaprathet’s proximity to Cambodia makes this location suitable for the development of logistics between Thailand and Cambodia, he added.

This is the final report in a series by The Nation on special economic zones to deepen economic integration in the Asean community with developed border areas.

Automobile companies are pinning their hopes on the 36th Bangkok International Motor Show to help stem the slide in sales seen so far this year.

In January and February, new auto sales slumped 11.8 per cent to 123,666 units from the same period last year.

However, sales are expected to surge this month thanks to the flood of new models gracing the annual show that marks the start of the car-buying season.

Organiser Prachin Eamlumnow reckons that more than 40 all-new, minor-change and special-edition models are being introduced at the event, which is run by Grand Prix International.

More than 30 auto marques and nine motorcycle companies are participating in the 12-day extravaganza along with 170 other exhibitors.

Hot new models include the Ford Everest, gasoline-version Mazda2, Suzuki Ciaz and Mitsubishi Delica Space Wagon.

At the upper end, Mercedes-Benz unveiled its AMG-GT S sports car while BMW paraded the i3 electric car, and in the super luxury segment, Rolls-Royce is featuring the most expensive car at the show – the Phantom Drophead Coupe Waterspeed Collection priced at a cool Bt59 million.

Carmakers are also dangling attractive offers and incentives to win over customers and grab as much sales as possible.

“Each brand is spending as much as Bt50 million to Bt80 million on its booth, which shows the importance of the event to automobile companies,” Jaturont Komolmis, vice chairman of the organising committee, said yesterday.

Last year the auto market plunged by 34 per cent to 881,832 units due to the political uncertainty, slowing economy and strict financing standards set by banks.

Ripples created by the first car buyer scheme that artificially boosted car sales were also found to fade out, said Kyoichi Tanada, president of Toyota Motor Thailand.

Toyota is the largest car brand and books |the most orders at the Bangkok Motor Show every year.

Still insisting her convicted rapist husband is innocent, Sainapha Atma fight to get him out of jail took another step forward Tuesday when the Criminal Court accepted her lawsuit against the woman whose testimony put him behind bars.

”Thank you to the court to accepting the case. My family has lived in pain since my husband was put in jail. I strongly believe that my husband did not commit the crime,” she told reporters at the court.

Pol Snr Sgt Maj Nulom and Mongkhon Thothong were sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined 40,000 baht by the Supreme Court on June 7, 2012 for raping a 16-year-old girl while she was being held for drug possession at Phetkasem police station on Jan 14, 2007. They are serving their sentences at the Special Remand Prison in Lak Si.

The girl’s mother, Orawan Waeokhum, filed a complaint with police 12 days after the rape, beginning a court battle that culminated in the high court’s ruling on their final appeal. Mrs Orawan testified before the Criminal Court on Sept 16, 2008 to confirm the allegations.

The high-profile case took a twist after Mrs Orawan’s daughter later admitted that she lied to judges to back up claims by her mother. Now 23, she was sentenced on Dec 1 to nine months in jail for lying to the court.

Despite the perjury, the Criminal and Appeal Courts have rejected appeals by the officers to reopen their cases. The Appeal Court on Oct 10 ruled that the two officers should have lodged a counter-complaint against Mrs Orawan when she initially accused them, instead of waiting until the case was finalised at the Supreme Court.

Mrs Sainapha and Napattanat Thotong, the wife of Pol Snr Sgt Maj Mongkhon, sued Mrs Orawan on behalf of their imprisoned husbands in the Criminal Court on Dec 1, claiming she provided false testimony.

The court on Tuesday set April 20 to verify evidence and Mrs Orawan, who is the defendant, will be summoned to give her account before the judges schedule further proceedings.

The decision on Tuesday gave the wives a boost in their bid to be reunited with their husbands.

Songkran Atchariyasup, a lawyer for the two officers, said he will include the previous case file as evidence to substantiate allegations against Mrs Orawan.

Mrs Sainapha and Mrs Napattanat will renew their attempt to have their husbands cases reopened on April 20, the lawyer added.

He told reporters on Jan 14 that he also had new evidence to present to convince the judges to grant a retrial.

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