Bill Gates upsets Thais with cable mess comments

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Thai power linesMicrosoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates caused a stir in Thai media after posting a picture on his Facebook site and his blog of the country’s ubiquitous tangled mess of wires, mistaking it as electricity cables that he assumed were illegally tapped by citizens.

“Due to faulty infrastructure, many urban areas suffer from frequent blackouts and power cuts, and the electrical grid often doesn’t serve the people who need it most. I’ve visited many cities filled with tangled wires such as those in this photo from Thailand, where people have illegally tapped into the grid on their own to get the power they need – at great personal risk,” Gates wrote.

“If you can’t get reliable electricity, it’s hard to make the most of your life. But I’ve also seen how people can be innovative and resourceful even in the toughest circumstances,” he added.

However, Thais and expats alike pointed out that while the cables are indeed shoddily draped and look messy, they are not power cables but telecommunications wires for phone lines and cable TV and thus could not be tapped for electricity.

Some Thais were also offended by Gates’ suggestion that Thai people try to tap into the electricity grid on their own, alleging they are stealing power. Other Thai people admitted that the wires were a mess, but not generally thought to be too dangerous. And there are actually not many blackouts in Thailand and power supply is comparably reliable.

However, others agreed that Thailand’s unsightly cabling follows no standards and there is no improvement, and they also would not rule out that power and broadband capacity gets indeed occasionally tapped. The cables end up looking this way over the years due to independent phone companies haphazardly draping them to new homes as and when subscribers signed up.

Concrete poles sometimes collapse under the weight of the cables supported, and some that get knocked over during traffic accidents wipe out the power and utilities for blocks of buildings connected to them.

In Bangkok, it has been an ongoing subject of debate for the metropolitan government, and authorities are believed to work on solutions, such as laying the cables underground, but are struggling with financing.

Proposals to combine power, telecom and and broadcasting cables into a single platform below ground to reduce the excessive load of utility lines and “improve the scenic beauty of Thai cities” exist, but state-owned providers keep looking for potential partners that could jointly invest in the underground project.

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates caused a stir in Thai media after posting a picture on his Facebook site and his blog of the country’s ubiquitous tangled mess of wires, mistaking it as electricity cables that he assumed were illegally tapped by citizens.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Thai power linesMicrosoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates caused a stir in Thai media after posting a picture on his Facebook site and his blog of the country’s ubiquitous tangled mess of wires, mistaking it as electricity cables that he assumed were illegally tapped by citizens.

“Due to faulty infrastructure, many urban areas suffer from frequent blackouts and power cuts, and the electrical grid often doesn’t serve the people who need it most. I’ve visited many cities filled with tangled wires such as those in this photo from Thailand, where people have illegally tapped into the grid on their own to get the power they need – at great personal risk,” Gates wrote.

“If you can’t get reliable electricity, it’s hard to make the most of your life. But I’ve also seen how people can be innovative and resourceful even in the toughest circumstances,” he added.

However, Thais and expats alike pointed out that while the cables are indeed shoddily draped and look messy, they are not power cables but telecommunications wires for phone lines and cable TV and thus could not be tapped for electricity.

Some Thais were also offended by Gates’ suggestion that Thai people try to tap into the electricity grid on their own, alleging they are stealing power. Other Thai people admitted that the wires were a mess, but not generally thought to be too dangerous. And there are actually not many blackouts in Thailand and power supply is comparably reliable.

However, others agreed that Thailand’s unsightly cabling follows no standards and there is no improvement, and they also would not rule out that power and broadband capacity gets indeed occasionally tapped. The cables end up looking this way over the years due to independent phone companies haphazardly draping them to new homes as and when subscribers signed up.

Concrete poles sometimes collapse under the weight of the cables supported, and some that get knocked over during traffic accidents wipe out the power and utilities for blocks of buildings connected to them.

In Bangkok, it has been an ongoing subject of debate for the metropolitan government, and authorities are believed to work on solutions, such as laying the cables underground, but are struggling with financing.

Proposals to combine power, telecom and and broadcasting cables into a single platform below ground to reduce the excessive load of utility lines and “improve the scenic beauty of Thai cities” exist, but state-owned providers keep looking for potential partners that could jointly invest in the underground project.

 

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