Queen Sirikit National Convention Center
           2nd Floor, Zone D, Room 201, 60 New Rachadapisek Road 
      Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110, Thailand  Tel. 229-3131-2, Fax: 229-3130
Intercontinental teleconference highlights lessons learned from the North Carolina information superhighway

Bangkok - US and Thai telecommunication leaders conferred
electronically Thursday, exchanging lessons learned in developing
the information superhighway.

	"The technology is not the most difficult problem," said Ms. Jane
Patterson, Chief Advisor for Policy, Budget and Technology, for North
Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt. "The most difficult problems are setting the
policies and developing the mechanisms that allow all the key parties to
work together," she said.

	The interactive video session, delivered over high-speed lines
provided by the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT), covered a wide
range of technical, financial, policy and human issues encountered in
North Carolina as it developed the most advanced state-wide system for
information technology in the United States.

	Opening the session in a video-taped presentation made especially
for Thailand, Gov. Hunt said the state decided to make significant
investments in the information superhighway because it believed those
investments would be repaid by improved efficiency in government,
education, medicine and commerce. 

	Equally important, he said, was that the state-wide high-speed
Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) system would give people in rural areas
equal access to information and many services to that enjoyed by people in
the cities.

	Dr. Sippanondha Ketudat, Chairman of the National Economic and
Social Development Board, said this was one of the most important lessons
learned from the video conference attended by more than 200 Thai leaders
from government, universities, hospitals and private companies.

	Patterson explained that North Carolina had set up committees that
brought together government and the private technology companies. She said
the two sides had worked out agreement to provide access to the
superhighway all over the state. She said this w as better than the 40%
area coverage achieved by private internet providers.

	The North Carolina team presented a two-hour review of the
policies, technologies and uses of the "highway" that is built of high
capacity optic fiber that allows transmission of multi-point interactive
video, data and computer programs. The system, speeding information at 45
megabits per second, can transmit the entire contents of the largest
encyclopedia in less time than it takes to say the word "encyclopedia."

	The North Carolina team demonstrated with video and on-line
computer simulations how the system was used to bring better medical care
and high-quality teaching to rural communities. They also outlined the
savings for state agencies in handling documentsand legal procedures.

	Patterson said that other uses, including transmission of data,
teleconferencing and commercial use by businesses and banks were expected
to expand rapidly.

	The interactive session was followed by a discussion in Thai led
by Dr. Pichet Durongkaveroj, director of the National Information
Technology Committee Secretariat.

	The discussion focused on the need for state leadership and
private participation in the information highway to ensure that it
benefited as many people as possible.

	"The most important question is how to ensure that services reach
the rural areas," said Dr. Pairash.

	Several speakers complained that high rates for lines to
Thailand's provinces made it almost impossible for most potential users
outside of the capital to benefit from the new technology.

	Despite much lower per capita income, Thai users were charged
several times the rates paid in the United States and in Thailand's
neighboring countries.

	Mr. Setaporn Kuseepitak, Deputy Director General of the Post and
Telegraph Department, said the high costs were due to outdated Thai
telecommunications laws that needed revision to allow more private sector
involvement and greater competition.

	"Service providers must compete," he said, " but at the planning
stages there must be lots of coordination between he state and the private

	Setaporn and other speakers emphasized that the "information
highway" was only as good as the applications that used it.

	Like North Carolina, he said, Thailand would initially focus on
distance education and health. Other services, particularly data bases and
software needed to be improved to take best advantage of the technology. 

	The teleconference and discussion were organized by NECTEC. and
the Kenan Institute, which has expanded from its base in North Carolina to
establish a strong presence in Thailand as the Kenan Institute Asia. 

	Participants on both sides said they wanted a second conference to
follow up in what may become as series of teleconferences that focus on
the particular uses such as education, business and health. The leaders
also pledged to exchange visits and keep in touch via e-mail.

For further information, please contact Paul Wedel of the Kenan Institute at 229-3131 or Dr. Rom Hiranpruk of NECTEC at 248-8078-84