NBTC Watch: SIM card click farm, Pracharat budget, startup funds

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ITEM: Following the discovery of a large-scale Chinese-run click farm in Thailand, NBTC Secretary-General Takorn Tantasit has warned people that while there is no limit on the number of SIMs they can register, they will be held criminally liable if those SIMs are used for illegal purposes.

Last week, police raided a click farm run by Chinese nationals in the province of Sakaew in Thailand for the purpose of boosting fake views and “likes” on WeChat. 347,000 SIM cards from all three networks were seized: 105,485 from AIS (of which 6,650 were active), 104,399 from Dtac (42,471 active) and 105,458 from TrueMove (9,777 active).

After the initial investigation, all the SIM cards were shown to be properly registered under various names, usually 200-300 per person, though one person was found to have registered 2,900 numbers. Most seemed to be registered to dealers selling the SIM cards.

ITEM: Takorn Tantasit has announced a $400 million (13,614 million baht) budget for the “Pracharat” internet project. Application forms will be sold until June 29 and the bidding for the project will start on August 1.

Phase One of the Pracharat (“people and state”) FTTx internet project will cover 3,290 villages. The first village must go online by December before the rollout is completed by July 2018. Phase Two will cover a further 14,000 villages.

Under the project, schools, hospitals and village halls in areas with no mobile coverage will get 5 years of free internet access at speeds of no less than 30 Mbps. Home packages in those villages will start at $2.90 for 10 Mbps.

ITEM: Digital Economy Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj announced the newly rebranded Digital Economy Promotion Agency will be supporting startups as soon as this September. The Ministry is currently setting up the DE fund which will have a budget of around $147 million (5 billion baht). The fund will be used to help start-ups in the fields of tourism, agriculture and FinTech. Pichet said the fund will be open to both technology startups and business process startups, as well as startups that help bring development to rural areas.

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