Free internet for low-income Thai households in pipeline

THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2021

Digital Economy and Society (DES) Minister Chaiwut Thanakhamanusorn has revealed progress on moves to widen internet access for Thais on low income.

Options discussed at a ministry meeting on Thursday included giving free internet access to poor households, Chaiwut said.

The ministry is waiting for approval to appoint a working group that will push the internet as a key tool for reducing socio-economic inequality, which has worsened during the Covid-19 crisis.

Chaiwut said that as well as daily communication and news updates, the internet enables people to register for government relief, purchase products, and make online payments. All these are impossible without an internet signal, which should be considered basic infrastructure, he added. The ministry was therefore pushing to make the internet a widely accessible public utility.

The plan is to reduce the cost of online access for people suffering financial burdens from the Covid-19 crisis, just as the government subsidises electricity and water bills for holders of state welfare cards, he said.