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Live Wire: Making the right connections

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Live Wire: Making the right connections | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: In last week’s Live Wire, I stepped you through an exhaustive list of the internet packages available in Phuket. I say “exhaustive” because, at this point, the only way to get a list of all of the internet packages is to physically schlep to all of the internet service providers’ offices, pick up brochures, and grill the staff on what’s really available. ISPs in Phuket generally don’t put full lists of services and prices on their web sites (click here for last week’s article).

I’m going through this exercise because I’m in the process of moving from Patong (where my wife and I have lived for the past 12 years) to Kathu. For me, the one key part of moving involves getting a decent, reliable internet connection. Two, actually, but I’ll cover that next week.

This week, I want to go over the kinds of internet services available in Phuket, and help you narrow down the list. This discussion is spurred by a chance encounter with a fellow long-term Phuket resident, who was at the CAT office in Central Festival, absolutely bewildered by all the choices, trying to figure out what’s best and how much it’ll cost.

Believe me, even if you know the difference between HSPA+ and xDSL and 802.11a – very few consumers do – the choices are confusing. Very confusing. And if you don’t understand the alphabet soup, you’re likely to end up with stuff you don’t want or need, pay too much, and get lousy service to boot.

Here’s what you need to know about connecting to the internet in Phuket.

Let’s start with the two basic wireless technologies: 3G and WiFi. As you probably know, 3G is based on mobile phone technology and towers; it’s available just about anywhere you can get a phone
signal. In Phuket, you buy 3G service from TrueMove H, DTAC, AIS, CAT and TOT.

WiFi, on the other hand, is a shorter distance technology that’s baked into almost every modern laptop, notebook, netbook, Ultrabook or tablet.

Most public places in Phuket have WiFi networks operated by one of the major phone companies: if you have a mobile phone account with TrueMove, for example, you can usually get onto True’s WiFi networks in most of the major public places – malls, some retailers, a few restaurants and cafes. Fees vary.

You can also set up a WiFi network at home, if you have an internet connection. All of the major wired internet service providers will sell or rent (or give away) a box that sits in your house and offers WiFi, of varying quality, throughout the house. If you pay for a wired internet service – one of the ADSL or Fiber Optic connections, for example – it’s quick and easy to get a WiFi network set up in your house.

Here’s how to put it all together.

Say you have a couple of “3G” mobile phones (iPhone, Galaxy, HTC, etc.), a tablet (iPad, Kindle, Nexus, Galaxy Note, Android) or two, a notebook computer (or Ultrabook, Mac Air, whatever) or three, and a desktop. The brand doesn’t matter – Windows, Apple, Android and Linux all have basically the same problems and opportunities when it comes to connecting to the internet.

Almost everybody will want a “3G” package for their mobile phones (in Phuket, 3G is HSPA+), because it’s very handy to have internet access while you’re on the road – not just for maps and shopping/price comparisons, but also to look up movie schedules, upload shots to Facebook, check your mail, swear at the lottery results, and a gazillion other reasons.

Next week I’ll talk about the various 3G vendors and help you choose the right package. For now, let’s just assume that you have at least one 3G phone and it’s running on a 3G connection – that’s about 500 to 900 baht per month.

Many people buy tablets with 3G (or, soon, 4G) connections. You may want to consider whether you really need a separate 3G account for your iPad or Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 or other tablet. Why?

If you usually use the tablet at home, you can connect to the WiFi in your house (more about which in a minute). If you always carry your phone with you, and the phone has 3G, you can usually set up a connection using a technique called “tethering” that lets you turn your mobile phone into a WiFi hotspot. Many people don’t ealize that they can simply piggyback their WiFi iPad onto their iPhone and get connected to the internet without paying for a “3G” iPad, and without paying for a 3G account/SIM card for the iPad.

Tethering iPhones and Android phones is usually easy. I’ll cover it in a future Live Wire.

Wait. It gets even more complicated. If you have a laptop, Air, ultrabook, netbook – any computer with a built-in WiFi capability – you can almost always connect that laptop to the internet by using your mobile phone. You don’t need to buy an “AirCard” or a USB dongle. As long as you’re carrying it, all you need to do is figure out how to tether your phone, and the laptop thinks it’s found a normal WiFi network.

In addition, if you have the right kind of phone account with TOT, for example, you can connect your laptop to any TOT WiFi network on the island. Granted, there aren’t a lot of TOT WiFi networks, but many of the most popular locations on the island have TOT, True, AIS or DTAC WiFi signals.

For most people, a 3G account for their phones is a must. But 3G on a tablet is entirely optional. If you always carry your phone, 3G on a tablet is an added expense that probably isn’t necessary.

Granted, your phone’s battery will run down faster if it’s tethered, and the data that you download to your iPad or MacBook or Windows ultrabook through the phone counts against your phone’s monthly quota (more about which next week). There’s a little bit of a hassle factor in connecting your tablet/netbook to your phone. But after you’ve done it a few times, you’ll see it’s like falling off a log.

Now permit me to throw you a curve. In all of those scenarios, you don’t really need to tether your phone. You can buy a small box – about the size of a deck of cards – called a MiFi or MyFi unit that does the tethering for you. You stick a 3G SIM card in the MyFi box, and it turns itself into a WiFi hotspot. CAT has MyFi boxes in stock most of the time, but they’re readily available at many of Phuket’s savvy computer places.

The best MyFi boxes can be charged in a few hours, and they’ll hold a charge for the better part of a day. That means you can stick it in your pocket, and carry your WiFi connection around with you, anywhere 3G is available – which is almost all of the island.

Here’s another curve: you don’t need to put a wired connection (ADSL, Fiber, DOCSIS, etc.) into your house in order to get your desktop computer onto the internet. Your fat old HP or Dell or Mac desktop will work just fine with a USB WiFi dongle – they’re readily available for 1,000 baht or even less. So if you think you’re stuck with running wires to
every corner of your house, you aren’t.

To recap: just about any computer – tablet, laptop, desktop – can get to the internet if you have a sufficiently capable mobile phone to act as a tether, if you buy a MyFi box, or if you get a line installed to your house and have the installer put in a WiFi access point. There are lots of permutations and combinations, but you can save yourself a lot of money, every month, by experimenting with the equipment you have – or buying new equipment with a plan firmly in place.

Next week I’ll step through the vagaries of ordering internet service, both wired and wireless, and give you some recommendations based on the latest results at our speed testing web site, phuketinternetspeed.com.

My conclusions may surprise

— Woody Leonhard

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Thailand

Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid | The Thaiger

Phuket Provincial Police have arrested 6 people after finding large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs during a raid. One suspect alone allegedly had 7.6 kilograms of crystal meth (ya ice) and over 12,500 methamphetamine pills (ya bah). 29 year old Surasak ‘Bank’ Wijit and 27 year old Panida ‘Mei’ Saeyang were arrested at an apartment car park in Soi Lookkaew, Moo 6, Rassada, in eastern Phuket, after they were found in possession of the drugs.

Police also found 2 mobile phones and a red Honda PCX, registered in Phuket, as evidence. Both suspects have been charged with posessing a Category 1 drug with the intent to sell.

Other suspects arrested at the same time include 36 year old from Chiang Rai, 42 year old Sarawut ‘An’ Srichanon, from Ranong and 31 year old Pornthep ‘Iew’ Thepchampa, who were charged with the same crimes in Chalong after police found more drugs in their possession. 33 year old Kamon ‘Kung’ Sae-ngow, was arrested as well after police found kratom juice and leaves at a house in Rassada. He was taken to Phuket City Police station and was charged with a Category 5 drug possession.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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Thailand

Phuket Muay Thai fighter is the first Thai national to compete in UFC

The Thaiger

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Phuket Muay Thai fighter is the first Thai national to compete in UFC | The Thaiger

The upcoming Ultimate Fighting Championship Fight Night event in Abu Dhabi will feature Thailand’s only national marking her third fight with the UFC, the world’s largest mixed martial arts competition. 24 year old Loma Lookboonme, from Burirram in northeastern Thailand, will fight in the event on October 3, 2020.

Loma is a Muay Thai fighter who has adapted her MMA skills to fight in the UFC where she currently trains at the Tiger Muay Thai gym in Phuket. Loma qualified for the national team at the age of 19 and has fought in over 12 nations worldwide. She currently trains 6 days a week starting daily at 6:30am with a 3 kilometre run. In the UFC, she will be competing against China’s Angela Lee who is the undisputed champion of the 52 kilogram fist weight category.

Phuket Muay Thai fighter is the first Thai national to compete in UFC | News by The Thaiger

Loma’s parents are former Muay Thai fighters and her 2 sisters currently compete as well. She reportedly started training at 8 years old after being inspired by her father, whom she describes as her “hero.”

Like most Thais in such fighting sports, Muay Thai offers a way to rise out of poverty-and fighting for the UFC can be financially lucrative. But Loma says her only Thai sponsor is the gym where she trains, with the rest of her sponsors being from foreign brands. She says she is trying to get more Thai sponsors but feels that maybe she needs to win the UFC first before Thai brands notice her.

Loma lost her last fight and says her new opponent gives her nothing to lose. She says her goal is to get into the Top 10, but is not sure when it will happen. Loma says for now, it would be good to fight against someone in the Top 10 to help her prepare for her future.

FULL INTERVIEW: Thisrupt.co

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Tourism

Phuket airport ready for tourists after finishing Covid screening labs

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket airport ready for tourists after finishing Covid screening labs | The Thaiger

Phuket Airport is officially ready for tourists as authorities say they have finished installing Covid screening labs in an effort to welcome international travellers. The 5T Model for Covid-19 is being used at the airport with the goal of screening large groups of people in a quick and efficient manner. The Phuket health chief says the 5T’s stand for Target, Testing, Treating, Trusting and Tracing.

Phuket has one large airport at the north end of the island but is separated into two separate terminals – a domestic terminal (the original airport terminal), and a new international terminal opened in 2016.

The target category refers to the target groups of tourists while the tracing stands for software that will be used to monitor their movements. The testing category refers to Covid tests that will be implemented to travellers upon arrival along with the treatment and trust categories signifying the readiness of resources for medical treatment and confident communications between all parties respectively.

The Covid-19 lab container module has been set up at Phuket airport’s Terminal X (the terminal opened for charter flights opened in 2014) and will be tested tomorrow with its operation to start on September 30. As large groups of tourists could arrive (later in the year, the lab is reportedly capable of testing 96 people at a time with test results becoming available in 6 hours. What the airport would do withe tested passengers whilst waiting for 6 hours, has not been detailed at this stage.

Such a readiness plan to welcome foreign tourists originally singled out Phuket due to its popularity with travellers, and as a so-called guinea pig model to test in a controlled environment (Phuket is an island joined to the Thai mainland by a single 300 metre road bridge). Once dubbed the Phuket Model, authorities have proposed to rename the plan to “Special Tourist Visa” due to the confusion and opposition it reportedly caused. The scheme is reportedly now being proposed for all areas of Thailand but only allowing foreigners from specific countries.

SOURCE: Pattaya Mail

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