TOT promises fast Internet, more phones

PHUKET: TOT Phuket plans a huge expansion of high-speed Internet links, telephone exchanges and listed numbers, the Gazette has learned. The Director of Marketing and Customer Services Center at the TOT Phuket office, Suporn Chuenpimolchankij, said that the 12 existing telephone exchanges would be boosted to 37 and 19,530 telephone numbers would be added to the existing 40,676 numbers. The TOT plans to install 40 ADSL (high-speed Internet) ports in existing telephone stations in the first three months of next year. The estimated budget for each ADSL port is about 8,000 baht. TOT also plans to install 5,000 ADSL links, across the island, during 2004. K. Suporn added that the TOT will soon introduce Flexinet, its wireless Internet service which, it says, offers faster than conventional dial-up Internet access. Flexinet access points are initially planned for the Laguna Beach Resort, the Dusit Laguna Resort Hotel and the Phuket International Airport in January. TOT’s upgrade comes days after people at a seminar heard that the importance of developing Phuket as an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) hub was emphasised by the fact that 40% of tourist booking were now made on the Internet. Vice Governor Winai Buapradit told the seminar on Friday that 123 investors have already set up IT businesses in Phuket with registered capital of 288 million baht. He added that 63 of these are foreign investors. Development of the ICT industry was vital to make the island less dependent on tourism as its only major source of income, he told the audience at Kata Beach Resort. Investment so far has come in both software business and internet services. “We get about 70 billion baht a year from tourism,” K. Winai said. “But after the Sars scare and terrorism we’d like to find another business to support the province. “With IT industries, there will be more income [and the industry] will help to support tourism at the same time.” He said that, to attract IT knowledge workers, the emphasis must be on infrastructure – including the quality of transport, police stations and hospitals. “In the future, we may consider reducing taxes to encourage more investors to come,” he said. “[Phuket] will be a training center for ICT as well as [having] a software park for investors.” The President of TOT Public Co Ltd, Sathit Limpongpan said that the TOT will work with the Phuket government to provide infrastructure including submarine optical fiber cable.

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