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TOT broadband: 1Gbps by July

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TOT broadband: 1Gbps by July | Thaiger

PHUKET (Nation/Gazette): TOT kicked off its project to build a new fiber-optic broadband-Internet service for Phuket with the awarding yesterday of a 136.8-million-baht network-construction contract.

“We picked Phuket as the first location to launch the service because the island has affluent consumers who can afford the premium-priced service,” said Sayan Tinsamran, TOT senior executive vice president for marketing and product development.

Under the contract, a consortium led by Italian-Thai Development and Siam Fibre Optic will install a 200-kilometer fiber network with 3,200 broadband-Internet ports.

The service will deliver voice, data and video on demand at speeds of up to 1Gbps over FTTx, or “Fiber To The x”, where “x” could be a home, buildings or any other location hooking up to the network.

Fujikura, a Japanese vendor, will supply its FTTx technology, while NTT-West Co, a Japanese telecom company, will act as project consultant.

K. Sayan said that the state enterprise had spent two years on the project’s feasibility study.

FTTx technology costs about 50,000 baht per port, more than conventional asynchronous digital subscriber line technology (ADSL). The service fee is expected to be high, but TOT will not finalize the rate until the launch date.

“We expect to break even in four years,” said K. Sayan.

The first phase will offer only voice and data; video on demand will come later.

“If the service in Phuket proves successful, FTTx will be expanded to other provinces, including Khon Kaen and Chiang Mai,” he added.

Pairoj Somsri, who heads the TOT office in Phuket, said he expects the system to be operational around the beginning of July.

Fiber-optic cables up to 20 kilometers in length will originate from the main Phuket TOT office in Phuket City as well as its two sub-branch offices in Thalang and Patong.

The network should cover most of the island, he said.

“I think it is great that Phuket was chosen to be the pilot province for this project, because this is new technology with a high investment cost,” he added.

K. Pairoj declined to estimate what prospective users would have to pay for the service once it becomes available.

Upon learning that the contract had been signed, Gazette computer-columnist Woody Leonhard was cautiously optimistic.

“If TOT is able to deliver 1Gbps international Internet access to offices and homes in Phuket, it will represent a major breakthrough in the island’s efforts to establish itself as an IT hub for Southeast Asia. Fiber in Phuket should prove to be a very wise investment, but to get a return on that investment, TOT must offer high-speed service not only to locations inside Thailand, but out to the rest of the world as well.”

Henry Habermacher of X-Net computers in Phuket City was more doubtful that the average Internet user would benefit.

“It’s not the speed on the last mile, it’s the speed from Thailand to the international lines,” he said. “What should I do with a 1Gbps-wide fiber line if I get served over the international lines with only 100Kbps? This will not help us at all. This is for radio stations, telephone… Internet users using international lines are not targeted with this plan at all.”

He added that the service would only become more strained with the increased demand unless CAT and other providers first expand Internet bandwidth internationally.

 

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