Thailand aims to be the leading digital nation in ASEAN by 2020, according to a whitepaper released today by dtac, which sets out a projected vision and recommendations for realizing a worldclass Digital Economy and Society in Thailand.
The report, ‘REALIZING DIGITAL THAILAND: An Internet not for the few, but for the many,’ was formally presented at the Asia Pacific Digital Societies Policy Forum 2016 in Bangkok on 2728 April, hosted by the GSMA and MICT. In the document, dtac outlines concrete propositions within six key governmentdefined pillars for building a Digital Economy in Thailand by 2020, alongside proof points in each area to illustrate a wideranging commitment.
“This Digital Thailand whitepaper is part of our longterm commitment helping realize the country’s digital future and encourage cooperation from multiple stakeholders, including policymakers, the private sector and civil society,” said Lars Norling, Chief Executive Officer, Total Access Communication PLC (dtac). “The Royal Thai Government’s vision for a Digital Economy will benefit the nation, its people, the economy and regional competitiveness. We therefore focused this report on providing a tangible roadmap for accelerating the efforts that will make it possibly to achieve nationwide digitalization by 2020.”
The report articulates Digital Economy’s ability to transform industries and impact people’s lives in clearcut, positive ways, underscoring its importance as a driver of macro innovation and growth. In line with initiatives set out by the Royal Government of Thailand and reinforced by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT), dtac’s Digital Economy whitepaper further outlines the challenges and opportunities to develop a national digitized economy and enhance Thai industrial competitiveness within the ASEAN Economic Community and beyond.
“This report presents dtac’s concrete recommendations and support for achieving the process of digitalization, formulated by our long partnership with Thailand and experience in other emerging digital economies. Achieving a Digital Economy and Society must be a collaborative effort, and dtac is committed to working with all stakeholders to see the construction of a truly Digital Thailand that will benefit the entire population,” concluded Norling.
The Shared Vision for Digital Thailand
The emergence of a Digital Thailand will have direct benefits in the areas of GDP growth and broadbased socioeconomic prosperity and inclusion; labor productivity and employment and competitiveness within the ASEAN Economic Community and beyond. In order to realize the ICT Ministry’s draft 2016 Development Plan for Economy and Digital Society and become a digital leader within the ASEAN
Economic Community, dtac is outlining recommendations and is committed to contributing under six primary pillars.
Pillar 1: Digital Infrastructure
Thailand is lacking in both fixed and mobile digital infrastructure coverage and mobile penetration compared to developed nations, particularly at the 4G level. To address this, dtac recommends the development of a spectrum roadmap for the allocation and auction of 700, 850, 1800, 2300, 2600 MHz bands to support affordable and universal fixed and mobile broadband internet access. This will increase online access at all levels of Thai society, mirroring the government’s 2016 aim to bring broadband to 30,000 villages through national basic digital infrastructure upgrades. dtac also supports the government’s National Infrastructure Fund initiative to promote tower sharing in remote areas and develop submarine connectivity infrastructure sharing.
Pillar 2: Digital Innovation Ecosystem
For the Thai economy to attain and increase its full potential, digital technology must be further incorporated within the Thai business community—specifically within SMEs which account for more than 99% of all businesses in Thailand. Within the report, dtac endorses the promotion of the digital startup ecosystem through multiple partnerships with all stakeholders. As an example, since 2013 dtac Accelerate has enabled multiple Thai tech companies, including personal finance app Piggipo, insurance claim app Claim Di, and car diagnostic device outfit Drivebot.
Pillar 3: Digital Technology for an Equitable Society
In 2015, 48 million Thais remained unconnected to the internet and thus unable to avail themselves to the socioeconomic and cultural benefits of this technology.1 The parameters of a successful Digital Economy is that it must be inclusive, aimed at alleviating urbanrural disparity and boosting rural incomes, particularly among Thailand’s agricultural backbone. In line with the company’s Internet For All strategy, dtac recommends undertaking public/private partnerships to digitize health, education, financial and agricultural services that promote greater equity amongst Thais.
Pillar 4: eGovernment Services
Thailand is currently placed behind developed nations in the online availability of basic public services, with the majority of public records not digitally available to citizens. The national “superhighway network”– or Super GIN – is currently being established to link existing government data systems.
To support this governmental work, dtac recommends engaging the private sector to accelerate the provision of egovernment services, as seen in the creation of dtac’s ‘Paysbuy’, a Mobile Financial Service.
Pillar 5: Human Capital
Thailand’s Digital Economy could be hampered by gaps in the educational system and workforce digital readiness. A further challenge will be strengthening both digital literacy and English language skills for Thais, beginning with building basic ICT skills for the population. One way to initiate this is sourcing private sector expertise and human capital to deliver uptodate and relevant instruction, such as dtac’s Net Arsa. To date, this has helped connect more than 50,000 Thais through more than 60 volunteer internet coaches.
Pillar 6: Holistic Frameworks for a Digital Thailand
To implement a Digital Society, Thailand requires holistic frameworks for laws, regulations, and criteria governing the digital sector. dtac recommends revising Thailand’s digital economy laws in a transparent manner through public consultation that offers a level playing field for state and private companies. As well as guaranteeing the independence of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission in ensuring allocation of spectrum through transparent and competitive auctions.