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Phuket Live Wire: Don’t be evil, AIS

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Live Wire: Don’t be evil, AIS | The Thaiger

PHUKET: A friend of mine – one of the Sunday morning computer clinic crowd – sends an interesting tale about his pre-paid AIS account:

“I recently went through 300 baht of phone service in 10 days. 300 baht usually takes me over a month. Couldn’t figure out why.

I routinely receive a ‘News Plus’ SMS message, in Thai, from AIS. I delete it – I don’t read Thai and even if I did, I’m not interested in AIS promotions. After a visit to the AIS office in Phuket Town, I learned that I’m being charged 9 baht per minute for calls and 9 baht per received SMS, including the News Plus advertisement.

At Telewiz in Big C, I was told I could not get those News Plus calls blocked. At AIS in Phuket Town, I was told I could get them blocked but it would take two to three days.

While there, I was offered a promotional plan for pre-paid access at 1.5 baht per minute. Signing up for the plan costs 30 baht. The only downside is that cancellation dates for top-ups on the plan are shorter: 300 baht expires in 45 days, 500 baht in 75 days, 1,000 baht in 150 days and 1,500 baht in one year.

So for the princely fee of 30 baht, I reduced my cost per minute by 7.5 baht.”

Mobile phone companies in Thailand have promotions all the time. Remarkably, some of those promotions apply to pre-paid accounts, as well – which means you qualify for the promotion even if you don’t have a work permit or retirement visa.

Here’s another friend with a different trick, for extending cancellation dates: “I just checked my pre-paid balance at DTAC and had 117 baht with 208 days validity. With DTAC, you can buy time – that is, you can pay to increase the number of days of validity, up to a maximum of 365 days. I tried to buy 180 days for 12 baht, but I couldn’t as that would take me over the maximum of one year of validity.

So I bought 90 days for 6 baht, then 30 days for 2 baht and finally another 30 days for 2 baht. My balance now is now 107 baht, with 358 days validity.”

And one more: “My AIS account was charged for MP3 music downloads from a Thai website. I’m very sure I never downloaded any MP3 songs and absolutely not from a Thai website. I looked back at my bill and the first month I was charged 500 baht, the second month 900 baht.

I contacted AIS and they immediately blocked the service and refunded the spent amount on my next bill. They said it was a service mistake, but I wonder how it could’ve happened. Can a third party just charge my phone with something I never ordered? There must’ve been a security breach at AIS.

By the way, this happened immediately after I switched my account to 3G. And yes, I’ve had antimalware software installed on my phone since day one.”

A word to the wise: check your phone bill!

4G coming to Thailand?
The Nation
reports that TOT is upgrading its wireless system from HSPA to HSPA+. That may sound like alphabet soup, but it’s a very good sign – and not because of the claimed speed advantages. “This upgrade will improve mobile broadband services for the 7.2 million TOT customers and increase download speeds to even 42 megabits per second (Mbps) compared to the current 7.2 Mbps,” says TOT.

Yeah, sure. HSPA+ is definitely better than HSPA, TOT’s old network technology, but the new network won’t be six times faster, I guarantee.

If you’ve been following my columns on 3G, you know that CAT already has an HSPA+ network. Since both TrueMove-H and DTAC use the CAT network, they have HSPA+ too. So in some respects TOT and AIS (AIS uses the TOT network) are just playing technological catch-up.

Here’s why TOT’s move to HSPA+ is a “Real Big Deal”. They’re using Nokia-Siemens to upgrade their towers to HSPA+, and the equipment Nokia-Siemens is installing can be upgraded in place to a technology called LTE. LTE is a Real Big Deal – it’s a legitimate “4G” product that could revolutionize the way we get Internet in Phuket.

In the States there are marketing and BS wars about 3G and 4G, with lawsuits flying every which way – but there’s an emerging winner. PC World just performed a nationwide study that showed that AT&T’s “4G” LTE service has the fastest wireless internet access in the US, with average download speeds of 9 Mbps. Yes, that’s the average. Yes, that’s three or four times faster than our fastest international download speeds in Phuket. Yes, that’s for a wireless service.

Several industry observers feel that LTE is so fast it’s going to displace wired ADSL, just as mobile phones displaced land lines years ago. Based on the numbers I’ve seen, that could happen. Maybe.

Seth Bareiss holds computer sessions every-other Wednesday afternoon, from 1 to 3pm. If you have a Windows problem that needs to be solved, drop by one of Seth’s free afternoon sessions, or come to one of our free Sunday morning roundtables at Sandwich Shoppe Chalong. Details in the Phuket Gazette Events Calendar.

The sessions are 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” pages at facebook.com/SandwichShoppe and facebook.com/phuketgazette.net.

This story was originally published in the Apr 28 – May 4, 2012 hard-copy issue of the Phuket Gazette.

— Woody Leonhard

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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Events

The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners

The Thaiger

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The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners | The Thaiger

4,000 runners from Thailand and overseas took part in the 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle Fun Run and Half Marathon 2019 yesterday, starting from the Phuket Gateway.

The event is expected to raise 700,000 baht for the charity, now in its 15th year. The money raised goes towards to The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, which is committed to protecting the marine and coastal environment, and ecosystems, for the wellbeing of sea turtles that nest in the Mai Khao beach and the surrounding areas.

The annual race also provides funds for thePhuket Marine Biological Centre’s Injured Turtle Rehabilitation Program and The Third NavalArea Command’s Turtle Hatchery Program.

The race was in its 15th year and runners of all ages and abilities took part in the race. The morning’s racing was divided into five categories – the 21.1km half marathon, 10.5km mini- marathon, 5km fun run and 3k family run and VIP participants for all the races. The route of 21.1 kilometre race took runners northwest along the Haad Sai Kaew beach towards Thao Thepkasattri bridge, past the rural road No. 3006, run along the road – Pi Lai viewpoint area returned back along the T. Baan Tha Nun to the iconic Sarasin bridge before finished the half marathon in the Phuket Gateway.

For Mini Marathon 10.5 km – Over all category, Mr. Chinnawat Changlek clocked 39 minutes and 40 seconds to clinch victory in the male half marathon, winning prize money and a trophy with the signature of Phuket’s Governor. The winner in the female mini marathon was Surakarn Wanna with a time of 47 minutes and 47 seconds.

Winners also received a prize gift voucher as well as a medal. Congratulations to all participants.

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