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Live Wire: A tale of internet worry and woe

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Live Wire: A tale of internet worry and woe | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: TWO weeks ago in Live Wire, I produced a list of all the available internet packages in Phuket – at least, all of the packages I know about (click here).

Last week, I explained that most people in Phuket will want to get a “3G” (I still hate that term, because it’s meaningless!) package for their phone(s). Most probably don’t need to get wireless 3G for their tablets/iPads, as long as they can tether the tablet from their phones – a process that’s fairly easy from most phones. And most folks need some sort of landline – ADSL, Fiber, DOCSIS, Airmax – for their homes or offices, although 3G can work in a pinch, particularly if you buy a MyFi box.

This week, I want to drill down on one particular internet service that you don’t want. I’ve mentioned the new TOT 3G service – TOT calls it “3.9G,” thus reinforcing my contention that the term 3G doesn’t mean anything here. I’ve never recommended it, because I don’t have any experience with it, haven’t seen any speed tests reported for it (phuketinternetspeed.com), and don’t know anyone who’s actually used it.

That all changed, very abruptly, a few days ago, when I received an anonymous copy of a letter sent from a reader in Phuket to TOT’s Senior Executive VP, in Bangkok. Here’s what the letter says, with a few minor edits:

“I recently tried to become a customer of TOT’s 3.9G service, with very unhappy results. I hope this letter will help you to improve the success of TOT’s 3.9G product, and to improve TOT’s public image in the process.

On December 22, I sent this information to TOT’s director of customer service, but I have had no response. Please forward this to the correct executive for prompt action.

My complaint is that I have been excessively overcharged for TOT’s 3.9G service under false pretenses. My attorney thinks this may constitute illegal coercion under section ‘A’ violation of section 341, Chapter 3, Title XII of the Penal Code of Thailand.

On October 8, my assistant, acting on my instructions, signed a contract for TOT 3.9G service. The contract specifies a monthly charge of 850 baht. The contract also refers to a service level called LOAD PLATINUM, which includes 6 GB of download data per month. There were no other marketing or explanatory 3.9G materials provided to us on that date or since.

Shortly thereafter, I started to use the 3.9G service to access the internet from my home computer. I expected to start receiving invoices for 850 baht per month, as per the original contract. Instead, on November 30, I received an invoice for 4,555 baht. On December 20, I received a second invoice for an additional 8,907 baht.

After receiving the November 30 invoice, I eventually figured out that TOT was billing me for 3.9G usage that exceeded the 6 gigabyte cap. This was a great surprise, because TOT had never informed me that there would be additional charges for usage beyond the 6 gigabyte cap. There is certainly nothing written in the contract or in the TOT brochures that specifies any such additional charges. The contract and brochures are completely silent about what happens when the 6 gigabyte cap is exceeded.

Several days after receiving the November 30 invoice, I stopped using the 3.9G service entirely. I also attended a series of meetings with TOT staff and the director of the main TOT office in Phuket, the most recent of which, was on December 19.

During those meetings, I was told for the first time that there was a usage charge of 0.5 baht for each megabyte that exceeded the 6 gigabyte cap in any calendar month.

I assert that these 0.5 baht/megabyte charges are unfair and unjustified because they were never specified in any paperwork provided to me by TOT – and they still have not been provided to me in writing. I do not believe it is acceptable for TOT to bill for charges which have never been explained to or agreed by me.

Please note that (according to the Phuket TOT office) my October 8, 2012 contract was the very first sale of 3.9G service in Phuket – so it is not surprising that there was confusion within TOT and between TOT and customers of the new service.

Also, please note that TOT has not provided 3.9G customers with any way to tell when they are approaching (or have exceeded) the monthly 6 gigabyte cap. It does not seem like fair business practice to charge customers for stepping over an invisible line.

I have called the 1711 number on multiple occasions concerning this problem. After waiting several minutes on each occasion, I spoke to a customer support person who was entirely unfamiliar with the new 3.9G service, and who could tell me nothing about my usage so far that month.

Furthermore, I have determined that TOT sends a steady stream of unsolicited “administrative” traffic down the 3.9G connection. I have no control over this traffic, nor do I have any way of knowing if it is counted toward the 6 gigabyte cap. I do know that the administrative download traffic happens about once per second, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That adds up to about 0.4 gigabytes per month.”

The reader goes on to propose a (very reasonable!) solution to the problem.

My first reaction upon reading the letter – in addition to the usual TIT (This is Thailand) observation – was to compare the price charged for additional data with industry norms. TOT charged the reader 500 baht per gigabyte (GB) for additional data. Singtel in Singapore charges 120 baht. Verizon in the US charges 450 baht for each 1GB overage, although customers can buy 2 GB in advance for 300 baht. Prepaid 3G in Cambodia works well, by all accounts, and costs 450 baht for 5 GB per month or 90 baht per GB.

Which begs the question: How much is one GB? Of course, there’s no definitive answer (this is the computer industry, after all), but a good rule of thumb goes like this: If you download or stream a one hour TV show, it’ll run about 1GB, or less if you go with a lower
quality (720p) picture. Full high definition movies can run 3GB to 5GB each. If you receive good quality photos in your email, 1GB is about 200 pictures – or just a handful of video clips, if they’re incessant. For downloaded music in typical MP3 format, figure on 200 songs. Your email, minus pictures and huge attachments, won’t even put a blip on the counter. Same for web browsing, if you don’t click to play videos.

You can go for about 50 hours with Skype “talking heads” video calls and stay under about 1GB – but if your camera is following something that’s moving, the data stream goes way up. YouTube videos vary not only in length, but in quality – from the lowest quality videos being sent to the smallest screens, up to 1080p high def going to desktop computers. On a tiny screen, you can watch about 10 hours of YouTube videos and stay under 1GB. But if you run at full HD, that goes down to about one hour before you exceed 1GB.

Put another way, if you have a 3GB data cap on your 3G account, and you use the account to watch full-screen TV, you’ll get about three hours of TV per month before blowing the data cap. Watch YouTube videos on your iPhone or Galaxy, and you can go for 30 hours per month. If you talk on Skype all the time, you can run video calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and still stay within your limit – but there won’t be much room to do anything else with the account.

Most internet service providers in Phuket offer “unlimited 3G” packages. While the ads say they’re unlimited, they aren’t really. In this case “unlimited” means you can go up to a specific amount of data in a monthly billing cycle – typically 3 or 4GB – and after you hit the cap, your line is throttled way, way back, so it’s painfully slow, until the end of the billing cycle.

Cavea

— Woody Leonhard

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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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Politics

Phuket’s Sri Panwa Resort’s land title deed to be investigated for legality by DSI

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket’s Sri Panwa Resort’s land title deed to be investigated for legality by DSI | The Thaiger

Back in the news again. Phuket’s Sri Panwa Resort’s land title deed is now to be investigated by the Department of Special Investigation after a petition was filed to determine whether the deed was procured legally. Veera Somkwamkid, the secretary-general of the People’s Network Against Corruption, filed the petition along with 167 pages of documents pertaining to his accusations that Thawatchai Anukun, a land fraud suspect, had unlawfully issued land title deeds to plots of land in Phuket before he mysteriously died in a detention room while in DSI custody in 2016.

He was allegedly being investigated for falsifying land deeds between the years of 1998 and 2001. Veera claims before the title deed was issued on the plot, the land was part of a forest known by locals as Pa Kae.

“Back then, 10 families that had occupied the plots for about 40 years had title deed requests rejected. The reason given was the land was part of a forest reserve used by the navy.”

However, Watchara Buathong, Phuket’s current land official, says the Sri Panwa resort had legally acquired its 56-rai, none of which was ever state land. Local resident Khwanjai Khumban, backed this claim, saying her father and cousins had sold most of the land to the resort, and she could produce documents to account for at least 12 rai of the disputed area.

Phuket's Sri Panwa Resort's land title deed to be investigated for legality by DSI | News by The Thaiger

Meanwhile, the Social Security Office, is also under fireas it is being asked to explain why it invested in the hotel’s trust fund. The department, which is under Thailand’s Ministry of Labour, in which its minister says he doesn’t know if the property has been legally built and points to the responsibility to the DSI to investigate. This was echoed by at least one opposition MP and anti-corruption activists.

The hotel, situated on Cape Panwa, in Phuket’s Muang district, has been under recent scrutiny due to its owner, Vorasit Issara, accusing Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, a co-leader of the anti-government United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration group, of offending the monarchy at last weekend’s protest at Sanam Luang.

Vorasit posted on Instagram that Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul should be jailed, further falsely claiming that she is not Thai when, in fact, Panusaya was found to have been born in Nonthaburi and is a Thai citizen.

“This bullshit has got to stop. She is not Thai. Who is she working for? This one needs to be in prison”.

Such a statement has received wide backlash from netizens with some taking to Trip Advisor and other websites to post bad reviews of the resort, prompting it to suspend advertising on such sites.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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Phuket

Female prisoner on the run after escaping from Phuket Hospital

The Thaiger

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Female prisoner on the run after escaping from Phuket Hospital | The Thaiger

A female prisoner is on the run after escaping from Vachira Hospital in Phuket during a doctor’s appointment. 58 year old Siri Phodam allegedly escaped after asking her prison escort officer to use the toilet. But she took a long time to come back, and was found to have escaped. CCTV cameras caught her dressed in a blue hospital patient shirt and a sarong leaving the hospital quickly. A Phuket prison officer says the woman is 158 centimetres tall and has dark skin.

“Some of our own officers are searching for her, and we have also sent the prisoner’s description to all Phuket police stations. However, at this stage we have not found any clues.

Female prisoner on the run after escaping from Phuket Hospital | News by The Thaiger

“If anyone finds a person matching the prisoner’s appearance, please inform us by calling 076 212 104.”

Siri was imprisoned after being charged with posessing illegal drugs and lived in Moo 2, Rawai.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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