By Jirapan Boonnoon
Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta said on Monday that Cabinet approval for his operating budget was expected soon.
The Bt2.5 billion sought by the Office of the National Digital Economy and Society Commission is the third-highest amount requested by government agencies, behind the Bt3.8 billion earmarked by the National Statistical Office and the Bt3.2 billion that the Office of the Permanent Secretary wants.
Buddhipongse said he planned to spend the money on, among other items, establishing 10,000 free WiFi hot spots in rural areas to “promote the use of and access to the internet and improve people’s knowledge”.
Net Pracharat, also known as the Village Broadband Internet, will operate the new WiFi hotspots as part of the government’s “Thailand 4.0” drive to strengthen innovation, knowledge, technology and creativity.
Enhancing the quality of the digital infrastructure is a crucial factor in improving the quality of life in remote areas.
Buddhipongse said his ministry has collaborated with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission to expand the high-speed network to all villages where it is not yet available. The ministry will focus on 24,700 villages, the commission on 3,920 villages in border areas and another 15,732 elsewhere.
Some six million people in Thailand are currently using 7.84 million devices to access the internet through Net Pracharat’s 2,277 digital community centres, where online know-how is promoted.
The planned anti-fake news centre will seek to counter false reports and protect people’s privacy, Buddhipongse said. It will help boost public confidence to seek out news, he added.
Its efficiency will rely on the assistance of the private sector, such as Line, to monitor information circulating on social media.
The ministry also plans to create a coding platform to support schools in teaching computer coding, he said.
It will help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) increase online commerce with the aid of international e-commerce corporations such as Alibaba, making Thai products better known and more readily available overseas.
The ministry will ask Thailand Post to serve as an e-marketplace and help with logistics to support SMEs in their product deliveries.