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State Funds to Subsidize Underground Internet Cables

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Authorities are set to subsidize operations by internet service providers to place roadside telecom and broadcast cables underground in Bangkok.

Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn announced that a meeting will be held on July 4 between the ministry, the National Telecom Plc (NT), and Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt to discuss funding issues related to underground cable projects in the capital.

Chaiwut explained that the underground cable project has been carried out by Krungthep Thanakom Co, a state enterprise under the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA). However, work has ceased due to the estimated 20 billion baht cost of the project. If internet service providers were to fully absorb the cost of laying underground cables, it was feared that this would lead to price hikes for internet services.

The minister said the government intends to subsidize the operation using state funds, with the NT supervising the project that is expected to be completed in three to four years. Funds may be allocated from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) or the Digital Economy Fund.

Chaiwut noted that underground cables cannot be installed in certain areas of the capital, so some roadside cables will remain. He added, however, that new wiring will be installed to replace bundled cables that pose a safety risk or are an eyesore.

The Digital Economy and Society minister also said cooperation from the public, the NBTC, the Metropolitan Electricity Authority and the Telecommunications Association of Thailand is also required for the swift and efficient completion of the rewiring projects.

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