Two major entities were responsible for the Thai telecommunication and postal services under the supervision of the Ministry of Communications. The Telephone Organization of Thailand (TOT) was responsible for the domestic telephone services; for international telephone services to several neighboring countries, such as Malaysia and Laos; and for leasing circuits for domestic point-to-point transmission of voices, telegraph, radio, and television. The Communication Authority of Thailand (CAT) was responsible for postal service, international telephone service to countries not served by TOT, all telegraph and telex services international lease circuits, domestic radiotelephone links to some isolated areas, and telephotographic and facsimile services. A committee in the Ministry of Communications coordinated the services and investment of TOT and CAT, although the two were state-owned autonomous operations. Numerous government agencies and large private industrial and commercial entities operated their own radio-telephone networks.
By the mid-1980s, Thailand had an average density of one telephone per hundred inhabitants. This density was better than the average of 0.7 for the developing countries in the East Asia region, although it was still lower than Malaysia with 3.3, South Korea with 7.8, Taiwan with 14.6, and Singapore with 26.5. Even Bangkok, which had the most developed telephone service in the country, had only a density of 5.4 telephones per 100 inhabitants. Overall, only 25 percent of the population had access to telephone services. There were about 5,800 local and long- distance pay (coin box) telephones in the capital city and 750 in provincial towns. About 4,500 pay telephones were to be added in Bangkok and 1,500 in provincial towns. About 62 percent of the country’s telephone lines were connected to business and government subscribers and the rest to residential subscribers. Business lines accounted for 83 percent of total calls and revenues.
As a rapidly modernizing nation, Thailand in the late 1980s faced many problems related to the growth and expansion of its economy. The development of its industrial base and the continuing need for new cultivable land placed increasing pressure on urban and rural areas alike. However, the abundance of the country’s resources, the adaptability of its workforce, and the stability of its polity boded well for Thailand’s successful transition to the role of newly industrialized country.
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Several studies are available on the Thai economy that furnish background details and analysis of the modern period since about 1850. Particularly valuable is James C. Ingram’s Economic Change in Thailand, 1850-1970. Further reading should include Larry Sternstein’s Thailand: The Environment of Modernization and Wolf Donner’s The Five Faces of Thailand.
The period since the late 1960s has been covered in a large number of journal and magazine articles and papers written on particular aspects of the economy. The Far Eastern Economic Review is a particularly valuable source. Issues of the Bank of Thailand’s Monthly Bulletin are also useful. For the most recent economic coverage, the World Bank’s publication of 1986 called Thailand: Growth with Stability--A Challenge for the Sixth Plan Period is the best reference. (For further information and complete citations, see thailand/th_bibl.asp"> Bibliography.)