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Phuket Live Wire: The empire strikes back, TOT steps up

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PHUKET: LONG the whipping boy in Phuket’s internet competition, TOT is finally showing signs of life and offering some real alternatives.

Some people have had good TOT lines for years, and haven’t found any reason to switch. But an alarmingly large percentage of people I know with TOT lines have given up and gone with competitors – most frequently True or 3BB.

TOT earned their licks. But recent logs on our speed reporting site – phuketinternetspeed.com – show that TOT’s back and fighting. And a new product, TOT fiber, promises outstanding speeds, so long as TOT can just keep it from bobbing up and down.

Last week I was at Patong Language School, chatting with the owner, when he invited me to take a look at the download speed he was getting. We ran the speed test to Los Angeles at DSLReports.com – the one we always use for phuketinternetspeed.com – and I could hardly believe my eyes. The Patong Language School’s TOT Fiber 10 Mbps line was running a genuine 9.1 Mbps download speed from Los Angeles. That’s one of the fastest international download speeds ever recorded in Phuket. The Mangosteen Resort in Chalong has the same TOT Fiber 10 Mbps service, and they’re reporting 7 to 9 Mbps.

All is not sweetness and light. Over the past few months, we’ve had repeated reports of line outages for the TOT Fiber 10 Mbps service. But when it works, it works well – and it seems to be getting more reliable.

Which is more than I can say for the new True cable service, being offered in Land & Houses Chalong, and all the way down into Rawai. Although True hasn’t published any details (as far as I can tell), it looks like True’s taking a very new and even exciting approach to broadband.

Based on observations from several people at the Sunday Computer Clinics, it looks like True has run fiber optic lines through Land & Houses, then put boxes on telephone poles that convert the fiber optic signal to “Cable TV” coax. They then run coax into houses and provide Internet over the coax, just like a Cable TV company would do in other parts of the world.

That leaves open all sorts of interesting possibilities, including the potential to have voice telephone service (VoIP, with free long distance), cable TV, and very high speed internet, all over a single coax cable running into the house. I’m sure True would have to clear a minefield of legislative hurdles to offer all of those services, but for now the Internet alone is worth watching.

The problem is very spotty service. And I’m being charitable. We’ve had one True Cable customer posting speeds on phuketinternetspeed.com, and they’re all over the map – from abysmally slow to mind-numbingly fast, over 20 Mbps in some cases. I’ve heard complaints about customers going to the True office and being told that the service doesn’t exist. Pleas for repair go unanswered. And so on. If True ever gets their act together, this could be a real winner. For now, it’s a masochistic exercise.

The moral of the story? If you need reliable internet service in Phuket, get two different lines from two different providers, and set your routers up so it’s easy to switch between the ISPs. Any other approach is just begging for disaster.

Live Wire is Phuket Gazette columnist Woody Leonhard’s weekly snapshot of all things internet in Phuket. Woody is Senior Contributing Editor at InfoWorld and Senior Editor at Windows Secrets Newsletter. He’s written more than 40 computer books including, most recently, ‘Windows 7 All-In-One For Dummies’.

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. Follow Woody on Twitter: @PhuketPC.

— Woody Leonhard

 

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