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Phuket Live Wire: An Einsteinian speed anomaly

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Live Wire: An Einsteinian speed anomaly | Thaiger

PHUKET: Last week I talked about the best-known internet speed measuring web sites – not the ones your Internet Service Provider (ISP) sets up and gooses to show impossible scores, but the sites that are internationally recognized as providing a reasonable indication of the speed your line actually delivers.

Some of you wrote to me and said that you don’t care about your internet speed. I think that’s great: if you don’t mind missing out on news broadcasts and sports shows, YouTube and Skype, then I salute you and envy your isolation. But I’d also note in passing that in a few short years, it’ll be possible to watch all of your favorite TV shows over a fast connection, for a tiny fraction of what TV costs now. You’ll also be missing out on interactive college courses and free international phone calls – and a thousand other applications that nobody’s dreamed up yet.

Others wrote to me and said that their internet connection is just fine, thank you very much, and if I’m having trouble with mine, I should have the phone company check and see what’s wrong with my line – instead of whining about it in the Gazette. That, too, is an admirable position to take, but I’m not just whining about my lines (I have four – including 3G – and always recommend at least two, from different service providers). I’m also whining about the lines attached to hundreds of additional internet customers on the island.

Speed’s important for most people. My two-year-old has been learning some English language phrases lately. His latest: “The internet is very slow.” It’s a refrain he invokes when YouTube doesn’t play his Gor-Gai video, or the Gigglebellies. The internet’s become an important part of many lives.

Last week I left you with an agonizing dilemma: the four internationally-best-known speed testing sites, when accessed from Phuket, give wildly different results. In my case, using a True 10 Mbps (megabits per second) ADSL line, I saw everything from 9 Mbps in tests to Los Angeles on OOKLA’s Speedtest.net, down to 1.6 Mbps on DSLReports’ test to LA.

I tried using a different line – a nominal 10 Mbps 3BB line – and the speeds were all a little slower, but not by much. On any single line, the speeds stayed consistent, regardless of which computer I was using (including a Mac), which operating system (Windows 8, Windows 7, OS X), or which browser (IE, Chrome, Firefox, Safari).

To further confound matters, when I run a “ping” test on the OOKLA Speedtest.net to Los Angeles, I get a result that shows the ping is running faster than the speed of light. Perhaps True and 3BB have had consultations with Dr Einstein, but I rather doubt they’ve figured out how to make an internet connection run faster than light.

It gets worse. If I use a downloader with multiple concurrent threads – basically different download sessions, all mashed over the same ADSL line – I get 9 Mbps, consistent with OOKLA. Which is inconsistent with Einsteinian physics.

I still have no explanation – and can’t recommend one testing site over another.

Phuket isn’t unique in having inconsistent speed test results. Even the US Federal Communication Commission, which has a huge vested interest in monitoring broadband speed, have basically thrown up their hands and refused to choose one testing site over another. Right now they’re hop-scotching between Speedtest.com and MLab, unwilling to commit to one or the other, and unable to offer a third alternative.

There are more anomalies in Phuket. A friend of mine, let’s call him “Khun Roger”, downloads lots of torrents at night. I won’t justify his torrent predilection, except to note that he can’t see the movies he wants to see in Phuket, can’t read books he wants to read, can’t listen to or buy music he wants to hear, so he turns to the pirate sites.

Khun Roger has a 3BB ADSL connection, and he’s been tracking his actual download speeds closely with a piece of software called NetMeter. NetMeter watches the data coming into the computer; it doesn’t try to measure how fast the line can go, it just counts as the data comes in.

What Khun Roger has found is that his 3BB line gives him about 1.2 Mbps until midnight, and then at precisely midnight, the download speed goes up to 12 Mbps. For whatever reason, 3BB is throttling his line until midnight, every night, and then suddenly
increases his bandwidth by a factor of ten.

It isn’t clear to me if this is a throttling performed on Khun Roger alone, or if it’s indicative of 3BB download speeds (or at least torrent download speeds) in general. But the effect is very striking – and quite replicable, on the nights when he kept track in September and October.

Here’s another anomaly.

When TOT rolled out its Fiber 2U service, many of us were ecstatic. At last, we figured, we’d be able to get fast fiber speeds for about 1,500 baht/month.

And we did. For a while. But on October 7, 2011, quite suddenly, the average Fiber 2U international speeds dropped by about 80 per cent. One day, we were seeing 8 to 10 Mbps. The next day it was down to 1 or maybe 2 Mbps. The speeds have never gone back up.

As a result, the TOT Fiber 2U service, which was once the fastest internet in Phuket, is now just barely keeping up with ADSL lines that cost half as much.

My guess is that somebody flipped a switch in Bangkok – that up until that fateful day in October 2011, the Fiber 2U lines had access to unthrottled international access. Then somebody decided they better toss the Fiber 2U international lines in with the ADSL lines. As a result, it’s very hard to recommend that people spend twice as much on TOT Fiber 2U as a plain-vanilla ADSL line.

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.

Follow him on Twitter, @PhuketLiveWire, and “like” the pages at facebook.com/SandwichShoppe, facebook.com/phuketgazette.net and now Google+, or send him mail at Woody@KhunWoody.com.

— 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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