Like many economies in the Asia Pacific region, smartphones are Thailand’s most popular device for getting online.
Of the 38 million Internet users in the country, 70% accessed the Internet more often via smartphones than desktop computers in 2015, according to a new report.
The report, Thailand’s Telecom Market end of 2015, produced by local telecom consulting firm Yozzo, ranked Thailand the highest in this category, compared to regional peers such as Malaysia (67%) and South Korea (60%).
While desktop and laptop computers still remain relevant, the use of mobile devices to get online has skyrocketed globally in the past several years, with developing economies tending to lead the charge, given the cost effectiveness and accessibility of mobile broadband. The report puts the number of Thailand’s fixed broadband subscribers at 6.4 million.
Having said this, the number of fixed broadband subscribers in Thailand increased by 16% in 2015. This figure is expected to increase further in the next four years after the Government announced plans in January to invest 38 billion baht (USD 1.1 billion) in strengthening the country’s broadband backbone to increase access to higher Internet speeds.
This comes alongside plans to expand 4G services, following spectrum auctions conducted late last year. At the end of 2015, there were 4.3 million 4G subscribers of a total of 83 million mobile subscribers.
Connecting the remaining 60% of the population
Although these projects will go a long way to increasing network coverage, and hopefully lead to greater competition and cheaper Internet access, they are not among the perceived major roadblocks for the 60% of the population who aren’t using the Internet.
According to the report, over 25 million people are not using the Internet because they don’t know how to use it, while another 11.8 million choose not to because they perceive it to be ‘unnecessary’.
This disparity was highlighted last week in a World Bank paper, World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends, which suggested Thailand must “focus not only on promoting Internet connection, but also carry out effective digital strategies to encourage citizens and businesses to adopt technology and increase productivity, if they are to improve their Internet penetration.”
As of the end of 2015, 39.3% of Thailand’s population (aged 6 and above) are using the Internet, up from 34.9% in 2014 and 28.9% in 2013.
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