Thai e-commerce remains a key growth engine, with strong growth of 68% and 37% year-on-year in e-commerce and transport & food, offsetting the delay in the resumption of travel. According to the e-CONOMY SEA 2021 report, the growth of the e-commerce industry may compensate for the loss of the tourism and logistics industries due to the decrease in the number of foreign tourists.
Thailand has seen 9 million new digital consumers since the start of the pandemic in 2020 (through the first half of 2021), 67% of whom are in non-metropolitan areas. Consumption penetration is the second highest in the region, with 90% of internet users consuming digital services. 34% of digital merchants believe they would not have survived the pandemic without digital platforms. Many companies are also adopting digital tools to engage with their customers, with 58% expecting to increase the use of digital marketing tools over the next five years.
Convenient and high-quality broadband services are very attractive to individual users. According to a study by Resume.io (a Dutch online resume maker), Bangkok is the most attractive Asian city for digital nomads. It also ranks fourth in the world due to its convenient internet access and low cost of living. Resume.io also points out that the ranking of the Thai capital shows that Thailand is a “popular country where nomadic workers come without hesitation after the pandemic”.
Based on OVUM and World Bank reports over the past five years, the result shows that broadband in Thailand has made great strides since 2016, this is due to the 4 key factors shown below.
Constant upgrading of broadband networks
Statistics show that Thailand has increased its investment in fiber optic networks since the launch of the five-year master plan for the digital economy, and that fiber optic networks are now available in both rural and urban areas. At the end of the fourth quarter of 2020, FTTH was covering more than 17 million homes. 90 percent of urban users enjoy 100 Mbps services, and even gigabit services are provided in some areas. In recent years, Thailand has also invested in 8 submarine cables to connect the country to the world, making Thailand the most strategic digital hub among ASEAN countries.
Improved user experience
The Internet access rates perceived by users have increased considerably. According to Ookla’s HBB rate report, the average download rate for Thai fixed broadband networks is 166.81 Mbps in Q4 2020, 4.6 times that of 2016.
The number of users with access rates of 100 Mbps or more continues to increase and exceeded 10 million in 2020, representing 90% of the total number of users. The number of users with access rates of 500 Mbps or more has increased by 4 million (including upgraded users and new users) compared to the end of last year.
Optimization of the cost of using broadband
Due to the innovative technology involved in the deployment of the network, the price of fixed broadband service of GNI per capita is continuously reduced from 3.42% in 2017 to 2.83% in 2020, which is well below the benchmark. of 5% defined by the ITU-T. This situation means that more and more consumers can be affordable for fixed broadband in order to enrich their daily life and protect their income with high speed internet during the pandemic period.
Coordinated broadband development in different regions
The Thai government report shows that 30,635 of the country’s 74,987 administrative villages have been covered by broadband networks. For the remaining 44,532 villages without broadband networks, the Thai digital ministry’s master plan of the USO project which is led by NBTC and ONDE to provide broadband access with 100/50 Mbps or 30/10 Mbps , the projects promoted the construction of broadband access ports in rural areas, optical fibers already covered all 74,987 villages and reached all schools by 2020, further reducing the digital divide. *
ICT infrastructure is the cornerstone of digital economic development, and fiber optic network is indispensable, as a rigid demand of the entire ICT infrastructure. To achieve IT and cloud service quality, improve uptime, and maximize computing power, data centers inevitably rely on fiber optic to interconnect with each other and then deliver the applicable service to end users. In addition, 5G technology is moving to the next level, it also relies on a fiber optic network basis, and without a dense fiber network, it will be very difficult to deploy 5G antennas and new base stations.
Thus, fiber-based connectivity has been identified as a priority ICT infrastructure by the Thai government. He launched “The 20-year national master plan for the digital economy”, “the 5-year digital economy plan” and “The ten-year digital economy plan”, providing advice on promoting network development and improving the development environment. With all these efforts, Thailand has witnessed the rapid development of broadband networks and achieved its network development goals. It is the engine of its technological advances, its economic and social development and the rapid growth of the digital economy. Fiber networks have become the new engine of quality economic development.
* Data source: NBTC and MDES (2017), USO (2017-2020)