Southeast Asia

The Key to TRUE Global Connectivity?

Internet connectivity has become something necessary. From social media, GPS, keeping up with the news, weather forecast etc. Simply put, it’s hard to live without the internet or connectivity. It’s a known fact that social media (i.e. the internet) helps humans feel connected from family that lives far away or friendships made through the internet. But it may be shocking to see how many people actually have access to the internet. In Vietnam, around 50 million people have internet access, about 53% of the population (touitrenews), in Myanmar, around 13 million people or around 25.1% of the population have internet access (Wikipedia), in Thailand, 39 million people or around 58% of the population have internet access (Insights Org). Most of the population that do not have internet access live in rural areas. New satellite technology may be the solution that can help spread internet connectivity to more rural areas.

Mu Space, an aerospace start-up in Thailand plans to “supports governments in Asia in their digital transformation efforts by providing a full suite of connectivity solutions designed to provide the broadest and fastest technologies for smart cities”. This company mainly targets Thailand’s rural population with little to no access to broadband which is a national problem. In Thailand, there are huge enterprises like AIS, DTAC, TRUE and CAT, but only about 39 million out of Thailand’s 69 million people have broadband access because in the “ex-urban and rural communities, terrestrial networks are difficult to roll out and are costly”(Mu Space Corp) which is why the telecommunications companies have yet to reach those areas, a problem satellite technology could fix. Mu Space’s solution was to use SES Networks satellites to bring affordable access to people everywhere. While this is one of Thailand’s problem, it is also a problem every country faces, a possible solution for neighbouring countries (as mentioned above) to increase connectivity through satellite technology. Satellite technology has been developed for multiple reasons, but this is a solution that can better the lives of all the people living in rural areas in ASEAN countries. 

Another solution that satellite technology can help solve is the problem of banking. Living in rural areas, most of the time, means transportation is necessary to go to the local bank branch, and connectivity is unavailable most of the time, so online banking is out of the question. In this year alone, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) one of Thailand’s biggest banks plans to close around 200 branches that have “low traffic” (Bangkok Post), the Philippines had “10 smaller banks closed in 2018 alone” (Asian Banking and Finance) and in Malaysia, “local banks have shuttered 63 branches this year” (The Malaysian Reserve). It’s no surprise that most of the bank branches that closed were in rural areas. Those areas also do not have stable internet connectivity, a problem satellite connectivity can help solve. By using the satellite technology to establish secure internet connection to those rural areas, banks closing their branches may not cause such a big impact to those living in areas with poor connectivity. With connectivity, mobile banking is made possible and bank transactions can be made with little hassle and with less need to go to a physical branch. 

Manufacturing costs can now also be lowered due to being able to have manufacturing plants further from cities and in more rural areas where land is more affordable. By being able to expand the land used manufacturing plants, this will significantly lower manufacturing costs in Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar etc. due to the vast amounts of underdeveloped lands in those countries, making them prime for investment and for expanding to those countries in to mass produce products. Especially with companies like Bosch, “a leading global supplier of technology and services” (The Nation Multimedia), bringing smart manufacturing to Thailand, it seems smart manufacturing with broadband connectivity could prolong South East Asia’s position as the manufacturing hub for big companies.
By embedding sensors into manufacturing machines to collect data and performance status, it will be able to identify opportunities for automating manufacturing in manufacturing plants by using data analytics to continually improve the manufacturing process. Bosch Thailand with WHA Industrial Development PLC helped demonstrate how connected solutions can help industries improve efficiency and productivity for long-term development and application of digital technologies. 
With the infinite possibilities of IoT solutions, and the determination to push IoT awareness, there are more smart solutions to problems that were once deemed impossible to solve. With this existing technology, more and more enterprises can innovate to include IoT solutions like smart manufacturing, online banking, etc.

To find out more details about opportunities within the region about the IoT industry and growth, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]

Jirapha Su

23 December 2018

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