Thailand rises in ICT Development Index


Improvements in infrastructure that support information and communications technology have propelled Thailand to rise 18 places in five years in the ICT Development Index, advancing from 92nd in the world in 2010 to 74th in 2015, as the government vowed last week to continue taking measures so the country will climb even higher in this important technology ranking.

The rise in ranking is encouraging news for the Thai government, which has unveiled a national policy called Thailand 4.0 that is designed to transform the country and its economy into one more reliant on digital development, innovation, research and development and creativity.

The results were announced at “ITU Telecom World 2016,” a four-day convention hosted by Bangkok this year and attended by over 25,000 people. Thailand hosted the event in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which is a United Nations agency. The ITU publishes the ICT Development Index.

The ITU says the event is a global platform to accelerate innovations in information and communications technology for social and economic development of businesses of all sizes as well as government agencies.

During his opening address, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said Thailand’s global IDI ranking “has improved by 18 places in just five years, compared with an average improvement of two or three places of other countries.”

Thailand’s rapid rise in the IDI is the result of the shift from a telecoms concession regime to a licensing system, according to Thares Punsri, chairman of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission. Other important factors include the auctions of 3G and 4G spectrum licenses leading to nationwide high-speed wireless broadband connectivity, the construction of a national broadband network in rural areas, and an increasingly tech-savvy population.

The IDI is a tool used by governments, development agencies, operators and researchers to measure digital progress and ICT performance within and across countries. The Index is formulated using 11 indicators.

The five major indicators are fixed-telephone subscriptions per100 inhabitants, mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions per100 inhabitants, international Internet bandwidth (bits/s) per user, percentage of households with a computer and percentage of households with internet access.

The government plans to achieve the Thailand 4.0 policy goals in a 20-year time frame. The government recently created a Ministry of Digital Economy and Society to oversee the policy and its implementation.

Acting Digital Minister Prajin Juntong said the convention would allow Thailand to showcase ICT innovations through the use of emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, and big data for sustainable technology development.

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