[bangkok post] Thailand is set to experience superfast broadband internet in 2010 as dominant fixed-line broadband providers have announced plans to begin the next-generation services.
The catch, however, is that the speed is most likely achievable only for connections to local sites - those with URLs ending in .co.th - or servers located in Thailand.
Internet speed connections could be up to 30 megabits per second (Mbps) with some extra costs while all existing 2 million broadband subscribers will enjoy an upload speed of up to 1 Mbps, from the current 512 Kbps at no additional cost.
Customers of True Online of True Corp and Triple T Broadband of Jasmine International have already seen the speed enhancements free of charge.
"We expect to see fierce competition in the local broadband market next year, forcing all service providers to differentiate their products by focusing on high-quality services," said Non Ingkutanon, deputy director for wireline broadband service of True Online.
He said Thais were expected to enjoy download speeds of between 10 Mbps and 30 Mbps, enabling users to watch films online, download large files and applications, and take part in peer-to-peer applications and online gaming - thanks to greater and more stable broadband technology capabilities.
Mr Non said the transition to superfast broadband was expected to expand the number of users but would require very significant investment in advanced equipment.
True Online plans to spend between 3 billion and 3.5 billion baht on expanding its broadband coverage and capacity over the next two years.
The company registered a total of 700,000 broadband subscribers as of Dec 31 in a market of 2 million. Seventy-five percent of its broadband customers signed up for the 3-Mbps package at 599 baht a month.
True expects to maintain its broadband revenue growth at 10% in 2010, up from 6 billion baht last year, said Mr Non.
Pete Bodharamik, CEO of Jasmine International, said the anticipated transition would open the door to a new era of broadband services for customers, with tens of megabits set as the industry standard.
Free speed upgrades up to 5 Mbps for existing subscribers are likely to benefit consumers next year, he added.
"The future of competition in the local broadband market will depend on speed offerings and greater choice of services," Mr Pete said.
He said Jasmine expected its broadband customer base in 2010 to reach 1 million, up from 560,000 last year, under its new 3BB brand, formerly known as Maxnet.
Broadband revenue is estimated at 5 billion baht in 2010, up from 4 billion last year.
30 Mbps broadband to be a reality this year