Phuket

Korean telecoms giant enters Phuket IT market

PHUKET: South Korea’s largest fixed-line telecommunications provider, KT Corp, has entered the Thai IT market with a 98-million-baht deal to install 5,000 ADSL ports, providing broadband Internet access, in Phuket.

The contract is part of the TOT’s expansion of Internet services, a key component of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Ministry’s push to make Phuket an “ICT City”.

Speaking at the official launch on July 14, Aran Permpiboon, Senior Executive Vice-President and Acting President of the TOT, said, “We will be installing 5,000 ADSL ports and an additional 19,530 telephone numbers. With Phuket as a tourist destination and the variety of businesses here, this project will boost the local economy by at least 15%.”

He said that the improved ADSL services will also aid the development of services that are not directly dependent on Internet services, such as medical treatment and e-education.

Yong-Kyung Lee, President & CEO of KT Corp, said, “It’s important to have the participation of the private sector in this kind of project. In Korea, the government’s contribution is mainly [in the form of] the promotion of broadband uses and access to the Internet backbone, but we need participation from the private sector as well.”

Mr Lee explained that KT’s entry into the Thai IT market is part of the company’s push into other markets abroad. “We have incorporated companies in Russia, China, Japan and the US and have also contacted officers [to set up operations] in India and Vietnam,” Mr Lee explained. “We have just started working with Thailand, and if it’s successful we expect to work together more in the future.”

Jetsak Bunsuya, Vice-President of the TOT’s Southern Region Operations Department, said that the TOT plans to have 200,000 ADSL ports around the country by the end of the year, with Phuket being the first province to be upgraded.

“The ICT Ministry plans to have a million ADSL ports installed in Thailand by the end of 2005,” he said, adding that it is expected that half of the ports will be provided by the TOT and the other half by the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT), though the deal has yet to be confirmed.

“Although there is a large demand for ADSL in Phuket, it’s not that easy to provide because it needs a large amount of funding,” he said.

K. Jetsak also said that KT’s involvement will initially be restricted to installing and operating broadband services. Whether it will join the ranks of Loxinfo, KSC and CAT as an Internet Service Provider (ISP) is still under negotiation.

“We expect them to be an ISP for broadband Internet access in Thailand because they have a lot of experience and are experts in this technology,” he said. “KT offers solutions and applications for broadband access. However, we are still discussing whether they will be [able to go into business as] an ISP or not.”

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