TOT moves fibre-optic installation forward

The state telecom enterprise TOT plans to install fibre-optic lines to replace copper wires nationwide by 2021, five years ahead of its original plan.

The move is primarily to serve the government’s efforts to switch from nine-digit fixed-line numbers across the country to 10 digits by 2021 to deal with continuous increases in mobile service demand.

TOT president Monchai Noosong said the company set a budget of 10 billion baht to install the fibre-optic lines.

“Finishing the project sooner will create a financial burden for TOT as we need new equipment to reset the transmission,” he said.

The company may have to ask related agencies for financial support, said Mr Monchai.

The government plans to increase the digits of fixed-line numbers across the country to 10 by inserting a “1” behind the existing “0” prefix of each number.

The 10-digit plan came from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission’s (NBTC) number allocation roadmap, which said it will serve expansion of wireless and fixed broadband services in Thailand, including digital service and machine connectivity such as the Internet of Things through smart devices.

After implementation, total phone numbers will increase by 550 million numbers, with 500 million reserved for mobile service and 50 million for fixed-line numbers.

Previously, the National Digital Economy and Society Committee, chaired by the prime minister, had a resolution to support the NBTC’s roadmap and assigned the Digital Economy and Society (DE) Ministry to work with the NBTC on the plan.

The government through the DE Ministry aimed to serve the increasing demand for phone numbers aligned with the country’s digitally-driven development.

Existing fixed-line numbers across the country have a prefix of 02, 03, 04, 05 or 07.

When inserting “1” behind the “0” of these prefix, the numbers created can be used for mobile services. Existing mobile numbers cannot have prefixes of 02, 03, 04,05 and 07 due to the limitation of transmission settings.

In June this year, NBTC assigned a total of 260 million numbers to mobile-phone operators, NBTC still has 52 million numbers that are sufficient to be allocated to operators through to 2020.

Mr Monchai said the plan to remove TOT’s copper wires nationwide sooner than originally planned has indirectly resulted in TOT scrapping its earlier plan of establishing the infrastructure fund for underground pipes.

Many copper wires were laid out in TOT’s underground pipes across the country, so when the existing copper wires are removed and replaced with fibre-optic lines, there will be more space to serve network expansion in the future, Mr Monchai said.

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