Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom is planning to expand its broadband operations in Thailand this year, according to company spokesman Hank Wang. Chunghwa signed a trial one-year cooperation agreement with Thai state-run operator TOT Corp in March 2005 to provide the latter with a 150-channel broadband network covering the Chiangmai area. Mr Wang said Chunghwa will either lease its technology to local companies or establish a joint venture after the agreement with TOT expires in March, although he added that plans were still being evaluated. Wang’s comments support yesterday’s statement by the Taiwanese company’s chairman, Ho Chen Tan, that Chunghwa is interested in upping internet activity in Thailand, where broadband penetration is relatively low. In Taiwan, high speed penetration stood at around 17% in March 2005, whereas in Thailand it was less than 1% at the same date.
In a related story, a group of Thailand’s ISPs are preparing to apply for a joint international internet gateway (IIG) licence, following the National Telecommunications Commission’s recent announcement that it was liberalising the IIG sector. The ISPs, which will share bandwidth if the move goes ahead, include Jasmine Internet and eight Thai-based providers. Jasmine Internet has around 60,000 dial-up internet subscribers, down from 80,000 a year ago, and 8,000 broadband customers. It is owned by Jasmine International, a shareholder in provincial fixed line operator TT&T.