Fiber optic connectivity brings the digital world and its benefits to remote villages in Chiang Mai, Thailand
According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), more than half of the world’s population has limited access to the Internet. And of the more than 60% of households worldwide without a broadband connection, the majority live in remote and rural areas. In the rolling mountains of Chiangmai, an area known locally as the “Rose of Northern Thailand”, many unconnected remote villages are scattered across the mountain recesses – including Pornfah Village, Maetoh and the school Banmaetoh where she studies.
The surrounding mountains acting as a natural and very effective barrier, his village is difficult to access and poverty is rampant. Without a broadband connection, Pornfah and her classmates have limited access to information, relying on outdated content from school textbooks. Using computers and surfing the Internet were distant luxuries.
A 60 kilometer mountain road is the main access route connecting the village to the nearest town. However, the terrain and the lack of a drainage system cause flooding whenever it rains, hence the local nickname “Water Road”. And it is not just traffic that is blocked: isolation prevents students from advancing in their studies and the local community from escaping poverty.
Khan is Pornfah’s neighbor. Suffering from a serious skin condition, and the local health facilities being ill-equipped, he has to jump on the back of his friend’s scooter to get to the nearest town. It takes him a whole day, a blow for a farmer with a family to support. Another local resident, In, said that since villagers’ income here is so low, she often has to bring her strawberries down from the mountain to sell them at the local market. Since the buyers know she had to travel so far, they tend to offer low prices, knowing that she would rather sell the strawberries than bring them home to rot.
However, although not connected, Maetoh – and other similar villages – have not been forgotten. Led by the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), “The Country of One Digital” program vision under the USO NET project laid fiber optic cables to connect Maetoh, using the innovative solutions from Huawei.
From remote to accessible in one year
Broadband and Wi-Fi networks are connected, the vast panorama of the Internet is online and a new chapter is being written for Maetoh.
At the USO NET center, Pornfah and her classmates can now use computers to access the internet, leveling the playing field for information access and allowing local children to pursue their knowledge – and therefore their dreams – of the same way that city students can .
And the benefits don’t stop at the school gates. The telemedicine service provided at the USO NET center means that Khan can come to the center and use a portable medical device to receive a consultation. The village doctor then transmits the collected data to the city specialist via real-time imaging for more detailed remote consultation, which relieves Khan for long trips around town.
From remote to accessible in one year
In’s strawberry business is booming. She is able to sell her produce through live online broadcasts and, like many other local farmers, is seeing her income steadily increase. And the training provided by the USO team will help more villagers change their lives online.
The elderly residents of the village can keep in touch with their young relatives working in the town and also learn more about what is happening in the outside world. The Internet has allowed an isolated village to touch the digital world for the first time.
“The USO 2.0 project has provided broadband services to 19,652 villages and the USO 3.0 project is in the planning stage. NBTC is committed to providing greater bandwidth and more convenient network service for villagers. Sutisak Tantayotin, Deputy General Secretary of NBTC, added.
How was the digital bridge built?
In 2018, the project team discovered that people in the mountainous areas of Chiang Mai were not only far from the city, but also scattered around the village. The traditional fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) solution requires equipment rooms and tens of kilometers of big-core fiber optic cables would be far too expensive, creating a large footprint and an unsustainable connectivity pattern.
In contrast, Huawei’s AirPON solution could reuse existing fiber poles and resources, creating an “air network equipment room”.
AirPON has quickly become a technology of choice that can help service providers quickly deliver high-quality gigabit fiber-optic broadband services to remote and hard-to-reach areas using existing fiber poles and resources. At the same time, AirPON is environmentally friendly and consumes little power.
“The AirPON solution tethers the OLT device to a local signal pole, allowing more people to access the Internet. We are so proud to be part of the USO project. Kunanon Donkusol, Principal Engineer, Huawei Thailand, said.