Thailand places the 20th in fixed broadband adoption with 9.2 per 100 inhabitants subscribing to the service in 2015, according a new study by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap).
The report titled "State of ICT in Asia and the Pacific 2016: Uncovering the Widening Broadband Divide" covers 53 countries in the Asia and the Pacific which include many small countries like Kiribati and Micronesia.
The report showed that Thailand's fixed broadband subscriptions remained low despite a sharp increase in the past 15 years (2000-2015). Thailand had an average annual growth rate of 159 per cent during the period.
Thailand's new spectrum auction was mentioned in the report, being an example of attempts by telecom companies to cash in on increasing Internet demand.
Escap particularly showed concerns over some 20 low-income countries in the region where fixed broadband subscriptions stay below 2 per 100 inhabitants, citing this would further widen digital divide in the region and the world.
The world’s average is 11.2 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in 2015. Leading in Asia and Pacific is South Korea, at 40.2. Japan's subscription rate is 30.5 against Singapore's 26.5 and China's 18.6 (excluding Hong Kong and Macao).
The report shows that 74.89 per cent of total fixed broadband subscriptions in Asia and the Pacific are concentrated in East and Northeast Asia, followed by South and Southwest Asia (9.77 per cent), North and Central Asia (7.68 per cent), Southeast Asia (5.74 per cent) and the Pacific (1.93
per cent), according to the 2015 data.
“As a result of this digital divide, millions of people are shut out from transformative digital opportunities in education, health, business and financial services,” said Escap Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary Dr. Shamshad Akhtar. “In response to the widening gap, Escap is promoting the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS) initiative, to increase the availability and affordability of broadband Internet across Asia and the Pacific, by strengthening the underlying Internet infrastructure in the region."
The study findings will serve as the basis for the inaugural Escap Committee on ICT, Science, Technology and Innovation to be held from October 5 to 7 in Bangkok.