Interview: Anudith Nakornthap
How is the ministry promoting ICT development across the kingdom, including rural provinces?
ANUDITH NAKORNTHAP: The ministry is promoting ICT development across the country, especially in rural areas, through a number of different strategies. In particular, IT infrastructure is being developed to accelerate the creation of a high-speed communications network that is broad based, accessible, adequate, reliable and reasonably priced. This will enable Thailand to become a knowledge-based society and help reduce disparities between urban and rural communities, facilitate access to news and information, improve the quality of education and enhance human resource development. The government has also established a policy to promote free internet access in public areas. The Smart Network project aims to expand the coverage of broadband networks to 80% of the population in the next three years, and 95% by the year 2020. The Smart Network will include wire line, Wi-Fi, wide area network and satellite, depending on the area. The ICT Free Wi-Fi project, which the ministry is managing in collaboration with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission and other agencies, involves the installation of more than 270,000 points for free access to the internet all over Thailand over five years. Such measures will help increase the capacity of the Smart Network. The ministry has also introduced a number of community-focused telecentres, which act as a central hub for ICT activity in more rural communities, to foster educational and training opportunities for local communities. More than 21,200 young people have been trained at these telecentres, and more than 140,000 have received some form of training or development as part of this programme.
What is being done to protect intellectual property and develop a commercialisation framework that encourages firms to invest in new technologies?
ANUDITH: An essential mechanism of the 2007 Computer Related Crime Act is intended to prevent and protect data and information distributed through the internet, which includes computer software as it is regarded as intellectual property. This will ensure that there will be no infringement on the rights of the inventor or owner of intellectual property. The ministry also set up the Cyber Security Crime Protection and Prevention Bureau and the Electronic Transaction Development Agency to cover the prevention of cyber crimes by upgrading network security and information security schemes, in order to generate greater trust among companies and individuals using ICT infrastructure.
Protecting intellectual property is an essential measure in motivating investment in innovation, which will support economic growth, as well as increase productivity and the development of value-added products. Through these mechanisms, the state of intellectual property protection in Thailand is improving, although more work needs to be done to tackle the abuse of intellectual property rights in the country.
To what extent has Thailand’s IT sector evolved to meet new challenges over the last year?
ANUDITH: The present government has recognised the importance of ICT and the role it plays in the economic and social development of the country. The administration’s ICT policy prioritises the expansion of infrastructure all over Thailand to provide every citizen with access to knowledge and ICT services. In order to fulfil these objectives, the ministry has developed the Thailand Policy, based on the ICT 2020 policy framework and the Second National ICT Master Plan. This involves the further development of broadband infrastructure to provide services to the provinces, while also offering e-services to the private sector, government and individuals. The improvement of ICT in Thailand is evident in a number of indicators, including an increase in the overall internet penetration rate from 12% to 40%, coupled with an improvement in the country’s Network Readiness Index ranking, determined by the World Economic Forum, from 77th to 74th globally in 2013.