Thailand ranks 20th in fixed broadband use

BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN) - In Southeast Asia, Thailand trails behind Singapore.

Thailand is ranked 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).
 
Among countries in Southeast Asia, Singapore ranks seventh with 26.5 per 100 inhabitants subscribing to the service; Malaysia is 21st, with 9 per 100; Vietnam is 22nd, with 8.1; Brunei is 23rd, with 8; the Philippines is 30th, with 3.4; Indonesia is 41st, with 1.1; Cambodia is 44th, with 0.5; Laos is 45th, also with 0.5; and Myanmar is 46th, with 0.3 per 100.
The world’s average was 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 China’s 18.6 (excluding Hong Kong and Macau).

The report titled “State of ICT in Asia and the Pacific 2016: Uncovering the Widening Broadband Divide” covers 53 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, which includes many small countries such as 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 auctions were mentioned in the report, being an example of attempts by telecom companies to cash in on increasing broadband demand.

Escap particularly showed concerns over some 20 low-income countries in the region where fixed-broadband subscriptions stayed below 2 per 100 inhabitants, warning that this would further widen the digital divide in the region and the world.

Higher prices continue to be a major deterrent for broadband adoption, it said. In a recent Escap study focusing on Southeast Asia, findings show that the lack of diversity in information and communications technology connectivity reduces competition and increases the cost of access to global networks, including via submarine cables.

The study found a varied level of costs for Internet transit connectivity, which is correlated with the cost of fixed-broadband subscriptions. Subscribers in Thailand and the Philippines pay US$80 per month for the service, against less than $10 in Singapore and $25-$30 in Malaysia. The monthly cost is more than $100 in Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

The report shows that 74.89 per cent of total fixed-broadband subscriptions in the region 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 Dr Shamshad Akhtar Escap under-secretary-general and executive secretary.

“In response to the widening gap, Escap is promoting the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway initiative, to increase the availability and affordability of broadband Internet across Asia and the Pacific, by strengthening the underlying Internet infrastructure in the region.”

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