6.12 Thailand

In Thailand, the government is working to build synergies between ICT facilities at the nation’s universities and those in its primary and secondary schools. While all of Thailand’s universities were connected to the Internet fairly early on, it has taken longer for its roughly 33,000 primary and secondary schools to achieve a similar result.

The effort in schools began with SchoolNet, which benefited from low Internet access rates set by the Telephone Organisation of Thailand (TOT). The process of connecting schools dates back to 1995, when the Thai Social/Scientific, Academic and Research Network (ThaiSARN) was extended to cover about 50 secondary schools in Bangkok as part of the SchoolNet project.250

A turning point for SchoolNet came in February 1998, when TOT began pricing Internet access at the same rate as a local call. The project became known asSchoolNet@1509, referring to the four-digit dial-up code for nationwide Internet access.251

The Communication Authority of Thailand (CAT) also supported the project by providing international Internet bandwidth. Between 1998 and 2003, the SchoolNet project connected some 4,800 schools to the Internet.

In 2003, the SchoolNet project was turned over to the Ministry of Education, where it was merged into a new educational network dubbed EdNet. In addition to public schools, EdNet includes universities in order to optimize network utilization and other resources.

The Ministry developed a National ICT for Education Master Plan (2004-2006). One goal was to increase telecommunication services in schools. Although most schools had electricity, 70 per cent of primary and 17 per cent of secondary schools had no telephone lines. By the end of the Master Plan period, all schools had a telephone line.

250 Minges, Michael, Tim Kelly, and Vanessa Gray, Bits and Bahts: Thailand Internet Case Study. (Geneva, Switzerland: International Telecommunication Union, 2002).

251 For technical details about the SchoolNet network see Paisal Kiattananan, et. al. “Network Design and Resource Management Scheme in SchoolNet Thailand Project.” In Proceedings of the 1999 Internet Society Conference. http://www.isoc.org/inet99/proceedings/2e/2e_1.htm and http://satjournal.tcom.ohiou.edu/issue12/uppalakom.html

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