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Live Wire: Phuket’s Internet options

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Live Wire: Phuket’s Internet options | Thaiger

PHUKET: As many of you know, I am in the process of moving. Sometime in the next month or so, I’ll be moving from a Patong townhouse – where I’ve lived for the past 12 years – to a modest housing development in Kathu, near Loch Palm Golf Course.

For most of you, moving is a massive pain. For people who are dependent on having fast, reliable internet, 24 / 7, moving is not only a massive pain, it’s frightening. When my internet goes down, I might as well go fishing.

Over the course of the next few Live Wire articles, I’m going to describe the steps I’m going through to get a decent internet connection at my new house and at the same time I’ll fill you in on options and tricks available to make your internet connection as painless as possible.

This week, I’m going to start with a general overview of which internet products are available, and how much they cost. Next week, I’ll try to hone in on what kind of service(s) most people need – 3G, ADSL, Fiber, WiFi and more exotic options – and how they fit together. In subsequent weeks I’ll tell you about the options I’ve chosen, and try to give you hints about what might be right in your situation.

Here are the main internet vendors in Phuket, and what they have to offer:

TOT has ADSL lines, and in some places Fiber 2U. The standard TOT ADSL package is listed at 10 Mbps, and costs 590 baht per month. You can run that up to a nominal 15 Mbps at 1,290 baht or 20 Mbps at 1,890 baht in most locations. TOT also had the first Fiber Optic lines commercially available in Phuket. The “Infinite Basic Fiber 2U” package runs 1,500 baht per month for nominal 10 Mbps, up to 2,500 baht for 20 Mbps. The “Infinite Advance Fiber 2U” package runs 4,500 baht for 10 Mbps, up to 7,500 baht for 20 Mbps. I don’t know of anybody who’s paid for and tested a faster Fiber 2U connection in Phuket – although they are available in some parts of Bangkok.

TOT also has just started selling a 3G (actually, HSPA+) wireless internet service in Phuket, but details are sketchy. The TOT network is the same one as AIS.

TOT is unique on the island in offering something they call Winet or, sometimes, AirMax. It’s an odd service that runs without a wire up to your house, but there’s a box that TOT puts on the side of your house that converts the wireless connection into something that works exactly like an ADSL connection. It’s a bit complicated, conceptually, but the bottom line is that you can get ADSL-like service without running a phone line to your house, as long as you’re close enough to a particular kind of TOT antenna: that’s very important for people who live ‘out in the boonies’, and for those who live in housing estates that don’t allow you to run wires to your house. AirMax is 599 baht per month. I wrote about TOT AirMax in the August 21, 2011 Live Wire.

CAT has ADSL lines, too, starting at 690 baht for a nominal 10 Mbps line, going up to 1,490 baht for a nominal 16 Mbps. Like TOT, they offer premium ADSL service which, like TOT, doesn’t seem to work any faster than the plain-vanilla kind.

CAT’s Fiber Optic network is now widely available on the island; it’s been sitting in a marketing closet for quite a while. The CAT “ON Net” service runs from 1,500 baht per month for a nominal 20 Mbps line, up to 3,500 baht for a 40 Mbps line. Their Gold and Gold Plus services are considerably more expensive, starting at 4,200 baht per month for a 30 Mbps line. We haven’t had any real-world test scores submitted for the Gold or Gold Plus lines.

CAT also has 3G (HSPA+) service. It’s the same network used by TrueMove, and by DTAC. As of this week, the CAT 3G internet runs 499 baht per month – considerably less than TrueMove and DTAC, for essentially the same product.

3BB is the only landline vendor who hasn’t gone to Fiber, or to 3G. Yet. 3BB lines are everywhere (they piggy-backed on the old TT&T wired network). Service starts at 590 baht per month for the nominal 10 Mbps line, going up to 2,290 baht for 20 Mbps.

True offers standard ADSL, which is arguably the best-regarded garden variety ADSL service on the island. Price starts at 599 baht per month for a nominal 10 Mbps line, up to 1,399 baht for 16 Mbps. I’ve been told by True staff here in Phuket that they also have a VDSL service available in some locations: VDSL is a lot like ADSL, except it’s faster, and should be more reliable (operative term: “should”). The 20 Mbps VDSL service lists for 2,299 baht per month.

True also has a DOCSIS network set up that runs to many high volume areas on the island. (I have DOCSIS lines installed at the Sandwich Shoppes in both Patong and Chalong, if you want to try them.) DOCSIS is another odd technology that uses a cable that’s very similar to Cable TV – shielded coax. I wrote about the DOCSIS technology in the July 7, 2011 Live Wire, Right now, DOCSIS service runs 599 baht per month for 10 Mbps, just like ADSL, going up to 1,299 baht for nominal 20 Mbps. There’s also a bonus for the faster DOCSIS lines where you get a very stunted line-up of television stations over the same cable, free, when you subscribe to DOCSIS internet.

True is well known as the parent company of TrueMove, which offers the TrueMove-H 3G (actually, HSPA+) service all over the island. TrueMove-H uses the same equipment as the CAT 3G network, but it’s more expensive: 899 baht per month for up to 5GB of monthly data. If you exceed the 5 GB cap, your service is knocked down to a much slower speed for the rest of the month. For comparison, if you download a typical medium definition TV show, expect to use up to 1 GB per hour of TV show.

DTAC offers 3G (HSPA+) service, the same as CAT, with the same higher price offered by TrueMove. AIS also offers 3G (HSPA+) internet, but it uses the TOT network. It, too, charges 899 baht per month.

By the way, if you go looking for these prices on the internet, you probably won’t find them. The ISPs in Phuket are infamous for not using the internet, like a cobbler with no shoes, or a phone salesman with a Blackberry 850. You can find the latest movie schedules online, you can find detailed instructions for building a Plutonium enrichment plant, or creating a liquid that’s supercooled to below absolute zero. But heaven help you if you need to find out what internet packages are available and how much they cost.

I came up with all of these numbers by schlepping to each company, in turn, picking up their latest brochures, and chatting with the clerks. Next week I’ll try to sort through the alphabet soup and explain what most people need to run their home PCs, Macs, phones, iPads, and the like. It’s complicated.

We’re running informal computer clinic roundtables every Sunday morning at Sandwich Shoppe Chalong, located 1 km north of Chalong Circle on Chao Fah East Road. If you have a Windows problem that needs to be solved, or a question about internet service in Phuket, drop by and ask one of the assembled gurus. Sponsored by the Phuket Gazette and Khun Woody’s Sandwich Shoppes.

Live Wire is Woody Leonhard’s weekly snapshot of all things Internet in Phuket.

Follow him on Twitter,
@PhuketLiveWire, and “like” the pages at facebook.com/SandwichShoppe, facebook.com/phuketga

— Woody Leonhard

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Phuket

Expats condemn Phuket’s “xenophobic” rapid-test payment policy

Maya Taylor

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Expats condemn Phuket’s “xenophobic” rapid-test payment policy | Thaiger
PHOTO: Flickr / dronepicr

Expats living in Thailand are up in arms after Phuket officials confirmed that foreigners arriving on the island would have to pay for a rapid Covid-19 test that is free for Thais. The testing requirement is part of new restrictions now in force to combat the spread of the virus. However, it is not the cost of the test – 500 baht – that has angered so many expats, but the fact that officials see nothing wrong with charging people based on their nationality.

On Monday it was announced that EVERYONE arriving in Phuket would have to pay 300 baht if they needed the ‘rapid covid test’. But that was amended the next day. Now we have the latest example of 2-tier pricing in Thailand (below).

The news was shared by travel blogger Richard Barrow on his Facebook page and has so far generated over 430 comments (and still growing), most of them furious…

“Unbelievable. I know Thailand is xenophobic, but for the authorities to do that is an absolute disgrace. They can piss off. I’ll take my business elsewhere in future.”

“I pay Thai taxes, I have for 16 years! am happy to bring my money elsewhere then!”

“Phuketians: “Tourists please come back.” Also Phuketians: “500b khap.”

It was not just foreigners commenting however, with at least one Thai person condemning the policy…

“I feel so so ashamed of how my country (or its government) so desperately wants more money to continue their corruption. Any possible ways they can rip you off – they will do shamelessly.”

Effective yesterday, anyone flying in to Phuket from elsewhere in the country must take a rapid Covid-19 test, unless they have taken a negative PCR test within the last 72 hours or can prove they’ve received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. With less than 1% of the country vaccinated – almost none of them foreigners – the second requirement is unlikely to be met by many.

Foreigners who have to take the rapid test, regardless of whether they are tax-paying work permit holders or retirees contributing to the economy, long-term residents or married to a Thai, will have to pay 500 baht. For Thais, it is free. The focus of expat anger is not the cost, but the principle, which is being roundly condemned as xenophobic.

Foreigners employed in the Kingdom in particular, are angered, given that they have been paying tax for years and have social security coverage. In response, Phuket health officials have issued an “explanation” – that manages to explain very little.

Expats condemn Phuket’s “xenophobic” rapid-test payment policy | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile, while the new restrictions apply to everyone arriving by air, for those arriving by road, only people coming from the high-risk “red” provinces need to meet the entry requirements.

And, just as a footnote, if your rapid covid test conducted by airport officials happens to come back positive you will be whisked away to a Phuket field hospital for a 14 day stay.

Expats condemn Phuket’s “xenophobic” rapid-test payment policy | News by ThaigerSOURCE: TPN

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand’s covid vaccine passport – will it only be used for travel?

Tim Newton

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Thailand’s covid vaccine passport – will it only be used for travel? | Thaiger

Hi. Im Tim Newton. Just upfront saying that these are my personal opinions and don’t necessarily reflect that of The Thaiger.

So today the Thai Government now has officially announced vaccine passports. The documents are going to be the next big thing in the long and winding Covid road. Firstly, before some comments, the details that we actually know.

This Covid passport legislation has now been announced in the Royal Gazette, so it’s not being considered, it’s actually law. According to media info, the vaccine passport will be an official document which can be used by vaccinated people travelling abroad.

I fear this Covid passport will end up as just another victim of the unintended consequences. The benefits, mostly intended for international travellers, will be used as another way of whittling away our remaining privacies and adding another layer of little annoyances to life and work in the Land of Smiles.

Look at the vaccine roll out in Thailand. Usually a business should try and under-promise and then over deliver. In this case the Thai government have done the exact opposite. Timelines for vaccination are not being met and the ordering of vaccines appears chaotic and, at best, just slow in getting to the startline.

The PM has rushed to assure the citizenry that the delays have been caused by an abundance of caution. And unfortunately the 2 horses they’ve backed in the vaccination race are having a few bad PR days and neither may be a long term solution to the latest variants of Covid-19 spreading around Thailand. But I’ll let the scientists sort that out… certainly not the legion of instant vaccine experts that have now infected the internet.

I’m all for trying to get the country open again, as soon as practicable, and safe to do so. But I’m starting to think the best course of action is to lock my gate and resort to an online worklife and Food Panda… the mad foreign guy locked up in his house with his 3 cats.

Here in Phuket we now have an arrival regime that demands either proof of vaccine, a negative Covid test, or a 300 baht rapid Covid test at the airport. The chances of me subjecting myself to an airport officials sticking a swap up my admittedly large nose in the vague hope it will probably come back negative, is zero. Again, on a daily basis we get emails from foreigners who say they’ve been whisked away to hospitals, and more recently field hospitals, with no recourse or means of appeal, or even the chance to get a second test.

Here’s one from this morning…

I can’t call the embassy as I don’t have a SIM card, I also have been told to order outside food as they won’t feed me. They won’t provide me with my test results and told me that I’d need to stay 14 days here in quarantine, but the doctor I talked with yesterday said 5 more days. I’m so confused as to what to do next.

Now, stripping all this back to basics, I’ll concede that we’re all in this mess together at the moment, and that we may have to forego a few personal freedoms for the greater good. I have no issue wearing a mask in public. I have no worries leaving my phone number at the door when entering premises. I will do my best to stay socially distant when in public.

But all these restrictions are easy to ramp up and much harder to wind back. And, at a deeper level, our trust in institutions, governments, and medical officials is being eroded. And that’s not good as we stumble forward in trying to get the world open again.

Will I get a vaccine passport? Probably. And I’ll also expect to have to carry it everywhere I go as it’s used as just another reminder that I’m just a guest in this country and I better just get used to it.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket requires Covid-19 vaccination or 72-hour test

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Phuket requires Covid-19 vaccination or 72-hour test | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Checkpoints in Phuket will only allow Covid-19 tested or vaccinated travellers in.

To help wrangle the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak in Phuket, strict controls for everyone entering the island go into effect today until the end of April. The provincial communicable disease committee approved the measures in an effort to stop the proliferation of Covid-19 in the province.

The new regulations state that only people who have received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine or have tested to be Coronavirus-free within 3 days of arrival, will be allowed to enter Phuket. Proper certification or documentation must be presented to verify this information – either a Covid-19 vaccination certificate or the results of a recent negative Covid-19 test.

Anyone attempting to enter Phuket without the full vaccine doses, or a negative Covid-19 test within the last 72 hours, will be charged 500 baht for a rapid antigen test at their port of entry. For Thais, the cost is free. The 2-tier price policy has been slammed by expats and other foreigners in the country. Read HERE.

These tests generate results in about 15 minutes and then negative-tested visitors will be allowed to proceed. If a person receives the test and is diagnosed positive for Covid-19 they will be sent to medical facilities immediately for treatment.

All entrants to Phuket are also required to use the Mor Chana Covid-19 contact tracing app to check in and record their travel timelines. That mobile app is available at gophuget.com.

The new restrictions apply to local and foreign travellers except for people making deliveries that are not staying overnight. Those people will get a special certification from their companies to present at the checkpoint entrance to the island.

Phuket is now classified as a Red Zone province, one of 19 provinces throughout Thailand where infections are on the rise. 208 current Covid-19 infections were registered at the start of this week in Phuket.

In response to the increasing Covid-19 infections in Phuket, Surat Thani has made special restrictions for anyone travelling from Phuket to Surat Thani. Those people will be required to scan and register their trip through the “Save Surat” website before being quarantined for 14 days.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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