I am currently in Thailand for three months with my family 🙂
We’re at the island of Koh Lanta which is in southern Thailand, close to Krabi and Puket (Phuket).
I’m trying to work from here but getting a decent internet connection has been a hassle. Internet is generally very cheap (compared to Sweden anyway) but slow. These are the options I have found and tried:
Internet café and Wirelsess access points
There are lots of these everywhere but it’s slow. Normal fee is about 1 Baht (THB) per minute for internet café. Wireless access is usually free at cafes when you eat or drink something. But at least here in Koh Lanta it’s very slow even though they use ADSL connections. This island – Koh Lanta – got electricity and telephone lines just about five years ago so maybe there is just not enough bandwidth to the main land.
Mobile internet GPRS and EDGE (aka 2.5G)
Bring a handset-to-computer cable to connect your mobile phone to your laptop or use Bluetooth if both your cell and laptop support that.
Then simply buy a prepaid card from a store (50-100 Baht). I have tried 1-2-Call (AIS) and Happy (DTAC) and both work fine. Call the operators service number to find out how to set up GPRS/EDGE, what the cost is and if they have any promotions. When you call the operator service line listen for what key to press to get an English speaking service representative. The service is good and they will help you get setup right away.
As an example: I use DTAC/Happy, they have a package where you buy 1 month/max 20 hours (unlimited traffic) of GPRS and EDGE internet access for 100 Baht. Currently they have a promotion where you get double max time (40 hours). If you use up all your time before the month is up you can call and buy the package again.
Just remember to keep track of how much connection time you have used up, when it is used up you are automatically back to standard fee which is 1 Baht per 10 kB. I didn’t notice my time was up and quickly used up the 200 Baht I had left on my prepaid – instead of the 80 hours connect time that money would have bought me I got about 1 hour.
Even though I find surfing etc very slow on EDGE/GPRS I was amazed to see that I could actually make video calls with Skype using this connection! Quality was not 100% but it was working quite ok. I guess this is more thanks to great Skype algorithms than connection speed.
Service number for Happy (DTAC): 1678
Service number for 1-2-Call (AIS): 1175
Mobile broadband/High Speed Mobile internet 3G/CDMA
There are two operators providing high speed mobile internet: CAT and Hutch.
It seems Hutch is covering the central part of Thailand and CAT is covering the southern and northern part.
My neighbour here has a USB modem from CAT which I have borrowed and even though it is not superfast it is the fastest option compared to anything else I have tried here including the ADSL from the wireless cafes. CAT have their own outlets and the closest one is in Krabi but through my neighbour I have now arranged to have one sent here which I hope to get in a few days.
I will pay about 11.000 Baht for the USB modem and 700 Baht per month for unlimited internet access. I was hoping I could use my 3G phone (Sony Ericsson Z770i) as modem but I checked the specs and it supports the HSDPA and WCDMA 3G-standards but both CAT and Hutch use the CDMA2000 standard and I don’t think they are compatible. Also CAT does not use SIM cards but the SIM is built in to the modem.
Hutch’s mobile internet service is called MBI and is available both as prepaid and postpaid. Hutch have better prices than CAT and from their homepage at first it seems you could use their services in CAT’s network. But after emailing their customer service to double check I got the reply that everything but mobile internet works in CAT’s network but it seems this will change later on. Hutch is mainly sold though their own shops but you can also buy online (or at least semi-online) using this form that I found well hidden on their home page.
CAT’s web site has very limited information in English: CTA
You can call their service center at 1322 where they can assist you.
Telephone number to the CAT outlet in Krabi is 075620588.
Hutch’s web site has lots of information in English: www.hutch.co.th
Their call center is at telephone 1128 or use this contact form.
[Update: In the end I had to go to CAT in Krabi myself to buy the thing. The CAT office is located on the main road in Krabi Town, about 500 meters north of the hospital, on the opposite side of the road.
The CAT staff was very friendly and helpful and I bought a Novatel Wireless MC727 modem device for 8.500 Baht (which was cheaper than the 11.000 Baht a sign on a display said, I don’t know if this was a time limited offer or why I paid less) Unlimited internet access is 850 Baht per month. Make sure you bring your passport as it is not pre-paid but a subscription/post-paid. I only had to pay for exact amount of days I wished for, so they started the subscription the day of my visit and it will end at the exact day I go back home in February.
Back at the house in Koh Lanta I plugged it in to my computer and it installed and connected without any problems! (My neighbour has the CCU-680 modem but they both seem to be working equally well.)
I think I could probably have bought just a SIM and used with my Sony Ericsson 3G handset as they did sell normal 3G phones with SIM cards, even though the MC727 modem was without SIM. I’m not sure about this but I think the CDMA2000 they refer to is probably not a standard but CDMA on the 2000 MHz band which my phone may support.
Another note which I missed in my original post is that there currently seems to be no High Speed/HSDPA/Turbo-3G, which is 7.2 Mbit/s only normal 3G 3.2 Mbit/s (using a standard called EVDO revision A)]