News Release

Market Leaders, Regulators Join for “Meaningful Broadband”

Chulalongkorn University, February 24, 2009

In the first alliance of its kind, Thailand’s top mobile executives today joined an alliance with the country’s telecommunications regulators, intent on paving the way for “meaningful” broadband” which they think could boost and transform the country’s economy.

Though new data for OECD (oecd.org) and elsewhere suggests that broadband by itself stimulates economies, the coalition aims to enhance this benefit through by formulating regulatory innovations, public-private partnerships, new economic modeling and innovations in software design.

“Now that legal hurdles are being removed, there is an urgent need for ICT stakeholders in Thailand to pool research efforts and formulate policies and practices that will make broadband of optimal benefit for all Thais.” said Prof Setaporn Kuseepitak of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC.) Besides NTC, also joining the Meaningful Broadband Working Group were chairmen and CEOs of the country’s powerful telecommunications operating companies including AIS, DTAC, True Corp., and CAT. (Participation of TOT
was pending confirmation as of Feb 23.)

The announcement of the new alliance was made at Chulaongkorn University in an event sponsored today by Nokia Siemens Network and hosted by the chairman of the university’s governing board, Dr. Charas Suwanwela. The Working Group was founded by the University’s Center for Ethics of Science and Technology (CEST.)

“Building on the approach used by the Obama Administration in the United States, the coalition puts high-speed internet in a starring role in a model of economic stimulus. But the approach goes further by also seeking to do so in a way that preserve Thai values and fosters a ‘sufficiency economy,’,” said University of Washington’s Craig Warren Smith, one of the founders of the worldwide movement to close Digital Divide. He is now a visiting professor at Chulalongkorn based at the CEST where he is helping to organize the Working Group.

“Telecommunications has emerged as the leading growth sector in Thailand’s economy. This effort hopes to find new ways to leverage the industry’s strength for the benefit of all Thais,” said Professor Prasit Prapinmongkalkarn, an NTC Commissioner.

“ We are delighted to support this initiative,” said Mr. Ricky Corker, Country Director of Nokia Siemens Networks Thailand. “As a leading global enabler of telecommunications services, we’re committed to building a sustainable future for broadband. With the kind of cooperation expressed by the Working Group, Thailand can emerge as a global innovator in broadband development,” he added.

“The working group can help us to consider how broadband can boost human resources in the new Thai economy,” said Mr. Sathit Limpongan, Chairman of CAT, who doubles as Thailand’s Deputy Finance Minister. Last week, the Finance Ministry announced a 1.9 trillion baht stimulus plan that incorporates investments in broadband infrastructure.

Being meaningful means being affordable,” said DTAC CEO Tore Johnsen. “We are keen to share our experiences in extending broadband to every Thai citizen no matter where they work or live.”

“Content is a driver of broadband,” said Supachai Chearavonont President and CEO of True Corp, a diversified media corporation that is also the third largest mobile company. “Though this collaborative effort we seek a way to extend access to interactive learning for even the most low-income Thais.”

“Six years ago, the Kingdom of Thailand became a world innovator by building a public/private alliance for the first national low-cost PC project. Now, with broadband, stakeholders can go so much further,” said Andrew McBean, former country director of Microsoft-Thailand.

The next step for the Working Group, say its members, is to invite the Kingdom of Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit to join a discussion about how broadband could assist the policy goals of a whole range of ministries.

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