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DE to improve infrastructure for submarine cable network, as Thailand pushes to become digital hub for ASEAN

June 21, 2018: Ms. Ajarin Pattanapanchai Permanent Secretary of Digital Economy and Society Ministry (DE) and Colonel Sanpachai  Huvanandana President of CAT Telecom Public Company Limited (CAT)  reported on the progress of the project to upgrade the telecommunication infrastructure to move Thailand’s economy forward at CAT First Class Lounge, Central World, Bangkok.

       Ms. Ajarin said the second phase of the project which aims to increase the effectiveness of the internet with the assistance of CAT is well underway. The move is expected to enable Thailand to become an ASEAN Digital Hub while increasing the quality of Thailand’s telecommunication infrastructure that will prepare the nation for the digital era.

        Permanent Secretary said that under the initiative, in the first phase, Thailand has expanded the internet capacity by 2,300 Gbps for services at its borders areas connecting Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. Officials, in the second phase, are currently performing tests and installing the necessary equipment to 151 communication stations nationwide. The Kingdom has also increased the capacity of the AAG, APG and FLAG systems of the network of submarine cables by 1,770 Gbps, courtesy of CAT. These cables link Thailand to Singapore, China –through Hong Kong–, and the United States. The upgraded infrastructure can now handle 7,512 Gbps of internet traffic for the entire country, which should also be sufficient for the foreseeable future. The upgrade is expected to stimulate Thailand’s economy, to create more jobs and opportunities, to decrease the inequality in education and public health services, to decrease costs of the internet, and to give people the access to information and state services.

        The third phase will see the investment in the new submarine cable system, in order to connect Thailand to the Asia-Pacific nations, which are Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, and South Korea. The 2-billion-baht project has been acknowledged by the Cabinet and is underway. The investment deal is expected to be signed by partners in July 2019, with the construction agreement will be signed in August 2019. The infrastructure, once completed, will be tested, and will be delivered to the DE Ministry within 2022.

      When the construction of the new submarine cable system is complete, the upgraded infrastructure will significantly improve the ASEAN connectivity’s stability and will play an important role in elevating Thailand as an ASEAN Digital Hub. The increased capacity of the cables to China –through Hong Kong– will improve the international connectivity of Thailand, especially with China. The improved system will satisfy the demand of internet usage from economic expansion. Increasing capacity of the submarine and land cables linking Thailand with the ASEAN subregion plus China –through Hong Kong– will also make the Kingdom one of the biggest economies in the region.

        Colonel Sanpachai said the site where the new submarine cable will get ashore in Thailand is Chalee-3 Sri Racha submarine cable station in Chon Buri Province. This station is located in the area of Digital Park Thailand. The station offers ‘Direct Route’ for cabling from Thailand to China –through Hong Kong–, and Singapore. The station is considered another strong point of the Digital Park Thailand program, which is part of the Thai government’s Eastern Economic Corridor mega development project that caters digital investors from abroad to invest in various technology in Thailand, such as 5G, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Internet of Things, Smart City, and Big Data. The program is also expected to entice business attention from world-class content creators. Thailand is located in a strategic location that makes it suitable for becoming a communication hub for the upper ASEAN region, which comprises Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. These nations are deemed to have high internet traffic. Furthermore, Thailand is one of the top digital content consumers in the world. The volume of internet traffic and digital content consumption in the Kingdom is sufficed to attract major content providers to establish its data center in Thailand and use the communication infrastructure in the nation, including the network of underwater cables, which will be upgraded for the cause. All of the aforementioned feats will make Thailand take a firm step into becoming an ASEAN Digital Hub of the bloc’s upper region.