Last week a senior executive was sent to meet Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva by Intel, the Giant United States-based chipmaker, to urge that the Thai government gives more attention to the improvement of information and communications technology (ICT) education, to digital infrastructure investment, and to spending on WiMax to bridge the country's digital divide. Intel's general manger for Asia-Pacific, Navin Shenoy, proposed that expenditure be sourced from the Thai Khemkhaeng project. He said the government should invest 'smartly' in education to allow children throughout the country to have equal access to ICT, to enhance their learning experience. An improvement in the national digital infrastructure would help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by giving them a better chance to improve their business competitiveness. Investment in the correct technology would help to bridge the digital divide by giving people living in rural areas an equal chance to access knowledge.
Shenoy said that WiMax, short for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, was a technology suitable for current investment that would help Thailand to move forward quickly. He said the government's new infrastructure investment should include investment in ICT infrastructure at the same time. Thailand could also benefit from lower WiMax-investment costs because many countries in the region have been investing in the technology, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. He explained that this will bring the cost of WiMax infrastructure and equipment down dramatically. However, to make rural broadband a reality, the government first had to make the WiMax spectrum available, with a clear directive. Then, private organisations could build business plans. Shenoy suggested that the Thai government could play an important role in making a rural broadband network available in the not-too-distant future by introducing policies, tax incentives and government purchases.