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Phuket Live Wire: Unofficial study nets surprising rates of speed

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PHUKET: The amount you pay for an Internet line has almost no correlation with how fast the line runs internationally.

Before you spend a fortune on a new Internet connection, make sure you understand what you are – and aren’t – getting.

Hundreds of Phuket residents regularly report (click here for graph) their international internet download speeds on PhuketInternetSpeed.com.

Computer Clinic guru Khun Roger and I had a chance to sift through some of the latest numbers, and the results certainly took us by surprise.

This isn’t a scientific study. Rather, it’s a grass-roots effort to monitor our internet speeds here in Phuket and make the data available to anyone who’s interested. You are welcome to download the reported sightings and analyze them any way you wish.

The numbers are self-reported, and not the result of some statistical sampling. The testing method is uniform: we all report international download speeds from Los Angeles, using a very reputable test that isn’t susceptible to caching.

We test many different internet providers and services, around the clock, from locations all over the island. What you see in the graph above is a distillation of the speed tests logged after we switched to the new cache-proof testing site in June.

International download speeds don’t tell the whole story. If you frequently visit popular websites inside or outside of Thailand, domestic speeds may be of far greater important for you. Some major websites – among them Google, Gmail, YouTube, Hotmail, Microsoft.com and the Akamai servers – are almost certainly mirrored inside Thailand, or somewhere nearby.

If you download torrents, the source of the data may be inside or outside of Thailand, or some mixture. Quality of service – up-time, repair response time, connections fading in and out – is important, and this is not shown in the graph.

International speeds only tell a part of the story but it’s a part we can measure reliably, and it’s a crucial part of the picture for many people who do most of their online work outside of Thailand.

Next week I’ll go into detail about the way Khun Roger and I massaged the data, and give you some hints on how to best to use the report, but here are the highlights.

It bears repeating: The amount you pay for an Internet line has almost no correlation with how fast the line runs internationally.

All of the 3BB lines run just about the same speed, whether you spend 590 baht a month for the 6 Mbps line, 1,490 baht for the 12 Mbps line, or 2,500 baht a month for the Premiere line.

Ditto for all of the TOT ADSL lines except, for reasons unknown, the 6 Mbps line is demonstrably faster than the others – and it only costs 590 baht a month. (There’s also a very fast TOT line known as the 9 Mbps Home service, but TOT doesn’t
offer it to new subscribers.)

The chart doesn’t include TOT Fiber Optic. We’ve had some complaints about the Fiber 2U service feeling sluggish lately – not sure what the source of the problem is – but measured download speeds are in the 7 to 9 Mbps range (and thus off the chart). Fiber 2U 10 Mbps is 1,490 baht per month and Fiber 2U 20 Mbps is 2,420 baht.

We have been seeing some significant slowdown in the True DOCSIS lines over the past couple of weeks. It’s possible that True’s not keeping up with demand. Surprisingly, the 20 Mbps DOCSIS line is slower than the 10 Mbps DOCSIS line.

The TOT “WiFi” speeds are based on just two customers, and they only got their lines in the last couple of weeks. The service will undoubtedly gain more customers quickly, and there’s no way to predict whether TOT will keep up with the demand, or if the service will bog down.

Speeds vary significantly depending on location and the individual line. See the PhuketInternetSpeed.com site for the latest details applicable to a specific location.

I have reports about many of the individual services in earlier Live Wire columns. To look them up, start at phuketgazette.net/computers.

If you aren’t yet reporting your speeds on PhuketInternetSpeed.com, please drop by and sign up! It’s free, it only takes a few seconds, and the results help everybody figure out what’s working and what’s not worth the effort. Remember that all of the data – more than 21,000 reported sightings at this point – is immediately available to anybody who wants to download, look at or fiddle with the results. The Internet Service Providers are watching the reports. We need your help.

Live Wire is Phuket Gazette columnist Woody Leonhard’s weekly snapshot of all things internet in Phuket. Follow him on Twitter: @PhuketPC or visit his free computer clinics at Woody’s Sandwich Shoppes.

To see what Woody’s up to in the international press, and to keep on top of the latest patches and problems with Windows and Office, drop by AskWoody.com.

— Woody Leonhard

 

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