Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Internet too slow in Thailand? An Aircard may help you.. Part II

Due to great interest here's an updated version of my post last year.
In areas in Thailand where there's very little or no wifi reception or like in my case where the hotel is trying to rip you off for ฿500/day, the use of an Aircard is so far the best alternative solution.
An aircard is basically just a upgraded GPRS modem similar like connecting your cell phone to your PC. In Thailand Aircards sold are using EDGE technology (sometimes referred to as 2.5G).
Altough EDGE release 7 has a theoretical peak bit-rate of up to 1Mbit/s and typical bit-rates of 400kbit/s, my experience here however depending on signal reception gives me average speeds of 10k-20k download and 3k-8k upload, sometimes with peaks of up up to 200k download/150k upload, which allows you to just do basic stuff. Never expect to watch livestreams or flawless Youtube video's.
The Aircard I bought on the photo, of some unknown 'birdsnest brand' :) costed me ฿1500,- (€26.50/$46.50). 
When purchasing an Aircard make sure to bring your laptop or netbook along. The salesperson will usually go into a lot of trouble to get it working, which will save you from potential headaches, because in case of problems you have to find out if the USB plug-in aircard hardware and/or driver software is not working and/or your SIM card is alright.

After first trying a One-2-Call SIM phone card, my 300 Baht credit was gone in one evening. Later I heard several other people complaining about AIS (One-2-Call is a brand name of AIS). The best offer so far regarding price/speed/coverage seems to be DTAC, although the coverage of One-2-call is perhaps better in some less dense areas.
DTAC offers a special SIM card for internet called a Happy internet SIM card, which costed me ฿250 (€6.-/$7.75). 
With a Happy internet SIM you can be online for 50 hours, which comes down to just ฿0.083/min or 8.3 Satang/min. (Satang=Baht cents) which is € 0.002/min. - $ 0.003/min.
After the 50 hours have elapsed it would be best to buy a new one, since after expiry, the topping up rates will be 3.5 times higher namely ฿0.28/min. incl. VAT or € 0.007/min.. - $ 0.009/min.

Not many foreigners or Thai shop personell will know the exact difference between a DTAC Happy phone SIM card and a DTAC Happy internet SIM card, since physically they are identical.
Please note that the only difference is that they will come with different promotional systems behind them.

After purchasing a SIM card, make note of the phone number, which saves you from swapping SIM's later on, also checking available credit (if you have any left) is relatively easy: On the DTAC website you are able to create an account which will show your details.

Once logged in, you able able to switch the promotional system as well, but it's not possible to 'upgrade' your normal DTAC calling card to Happy Internet, but vice versa you will be able to 'downgrade' your Happy internet card to the different promotions of a normal calling card. So make sure you purchase the right SIM card advisebly from a local DTAC shop.

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