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Phuket Live Wire: iPhone 5 – Caveat emptor

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Last week I talked about the importance of fast internet speeds and the evolution of technology in Phuket. This week, man oh man, the pigeons came home to roost. If you’re thinking about buying an iPhone 5, it would behoove you to read and understand this and next week’s column. The money you save could be your own.

I know a small percentage of you are just dying to get your hands on a new iPhone 5. And a much larger percentage of you have spouses, sorta-spouses, in-laws and out-laws who are looking to you for guidance (if not a small subsidy) to make a smart phone purchase.

Khun Papada, the Area Manager for Com7 International, advises that there is no established launch date for the iPhone 5 in Thailand, and the price hasn’t been set yet, as well. But you can bet they’ll sell like hot cakes.

Every phone buyer, around the world, is struggling with the same questions: Is it worth upgrading from an earlier iPhone to the new iPhone 5? Would you be better off with a Galaxy S3? How long can you hold out, to see if something better comes along? Those
questions are being debated from Tallahassee to Timbuktu, in coffee shops in Manhattan, yurts in Ulaan Bator, and stilt houses in New Guinea.

Here in Phuket, though, we have one HUGE question that doesn’t concern much of the rest of the world – and it’ll be a key factor in determining whether your purchase decision turns out to be prescient, or just another dud. Let me save that part for next week.

I’m convinced that the phone-buying world is divided into two parts: those who love the iPhone and those who think that you’re a fool if you buy one. I can’t say for sure that I’ve ever met anyone who’s moved from one camp to the other. So if your mind’s already made up, you don’t need me to try to sway you one way or the other.

If your mind isn’t made up, the iPhone 5 is a brilliant, if evolutionary – not revolutionary – phone. I will probably end up buying one, not so much for the phone, but for the whole Apple ecosystem, from the Apple App Store to iTunes to iCloud, the ability to use apps and music on all of my devices without even thinking about it – automatic synchronizing – and the fact that Apple stuff (with one exception) works amazingly well. The exception? Apple programs on Windows – particularly iTunes, but also iCloud, QuickTime, Bonjour, and others – are absolutely, utterly dreadful.

On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy S III has much to offer, and in many ways it’s superior to the iPhone 5. Samsung’s “It Doesn’t Take a Genius” ad nails the high points: bigger and arguably better screen, longer battery life with a removable battery, microSD storage, standard USB plug, NFC (for paying bills using your phone, some day), turn over to mute, tilt to zoom. Some people complain that the S III is too big, especially if you’re a one-finger typist. I find the larger screen inviting, so I don’t have to squint as much. I’d carry around a Samsung Note except I figure it’s unseemly to make a call with a phone the size of a svelte lunch box.

I may end up getting a Galaxy S III, though. I’m headed to Seoul next week, en route to the US, and will see how the prices run out there. I have a Samsung now, and could be convinced.

That’s the debate you’ll see raging for the rest of the year in mobile phone circles. Here’s the part that’s unique to just a few countries, including Thailand.

You’re probably aware that Thailand is about to embark on its “3G Auction” – starting on October 16, companies will be able to bid on telephone frequencies in the vicinity of 2.1 GHz so that they can offer 3G services with the government’s blessing, and without making big payments to CAT (currently used by DTAC and TrueMove) or TOT (which supports AIS). The Thai National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) promises it will announce the winners on October 22.

Nine slices of spectrum (think “TV channels”) are going up for bid. Each bidding company can bid on at most three slices, at a reserve price of 4.5 billion baht, plus operating commission. While 15 different phone companies have picked up application forms, most insiders expect that only DTAC, True and AIS will have convincing bids.

Here’s the rub. Both the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S III are “4G” phones, although they’ll fall back to “3G” if there’s no “4G” signal. (You probably know that I hate the term “3G” – so here’s a more accurate translation: the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S III support LTE technology, but they’ll fall back to HSPA or HSPA+ if there’s no LTE signal.) 4G is significantly – very significantly – faster than 3G.

I’ve been predicting this for two years: Thailand is just getting ready with its 3G auction, when most of the world is scrambling to switch to 4G. And the iPhone 5 is going to shove 4G to center stage in Thailand.

It’s like déjà vu all over again. When the iPhone 3G hit the streets in Phuket, early buyers were proud to have a 3G phone – when in fact, there were no 3G signals, anywhere on the island. “But it must be 3G,” I heard the argument over and over again, “it says so, right here on the phone.”

We’re going to hear the same thing about 4G, starting in about a month. People will buy iPhone 5 phones, with LTE (“4G”) support, and automatically think they have a 4G phone. But if there are no LTE towers in Phuket, there’s no 4G. Period.

Supposedly, TOT is testing LTE right now in Bangkok. 45 countries are currently rolling out LTE. I’ve written previously about how the equipment being installed in Phuket can be converted from HSPA+ (3G) to LTE (4G) rather quickly and cheaply. But Phuket doesn’t have 4G, the regulators aren’t talking much about 4G, and it isn’t even clear if the winners of the “3G Auction” can put up 4G antennas or not. How’s that for a bidder beware caveat?

Phuket’s 4G problems with the iPhone go even deeper. Check back next week for the details – and don’t buy an iPhone 5 until you understand the 4G implications, here in Phuket.

Woody’s Sandwich Shoppes hold computer sessions under the tutelage of Seth Bareiss 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. Details in the Phuket Gazette Events Calendar.

Live Wire is Woody Leonhard’s weekly snapshot of all things Internet in Phuket.

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

Update on Phuket’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ วัคซีนภูเก็ต (PR Phuket)

So far, around 22% of the population in Phuket has been vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. The island province aims to vaccinate 70% of the population by the end of June to reach “herd immunity”. Officials remain committed to the original plan to reopen to vaccinated foreign travellers by July 1, as ambitious as it sounds given the current situation with cases on the island.

Nationwide, only 645,500 people, which is about 1% of the population in Thailand, have received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Here are some updates on Phuket’s immunisation campaign…

  • Phuket is set to receive 140,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine next month. Those who are are over 60 years old, and who have registered for the vaccine, will be the first to get injected. The inoculations with the AstraZeneca jab will start on June 7.
  • The island province continues to use the Sinovac vaccine in its mass immunisation campaign. Phuket just received 200,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine and will start the next round of injections on May 18. Another 200,000 doses will arrive around the end of the month to be used as a second injection for those injected this month.
  • Expats working in tourism-related business or in the education sector in Phuket are allowed to register for a vaccine under the government campaign, according to the Phuket Health Office. Foreigners working for businesses outside of the tourism or hospitality sector will be included in the next phase of vaccinations, a source told Phuket News. Foreigners must have a valid work permit to register for a vaccine.

SOURCE: Phuket News

 

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Phuket

Phuket tightens restrictions: No parties, no visits from friends

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo by PR Phuket

No, your friends can’t come over. No parties. No drinking with friends. No large gatherings. As part of Phuket’s efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19, local authorities have tightened restrictions and say friends are not allowed to gather at private homes.

“No parties of any kind allowed… No house party, no friends gathering in the residence.”

Along with temporary closures of some businesses and venues, the order says, parties involving alcohol are banned and gatherings of more than 30 people are banned. The only gatherings allowed are religious ceremonies like weddings and funerals.

Foreigners who violate any of Phuket’s disease control measures could be deported and lose their permission to stay in Thailand. On Sunday, 2 British men in Phuket were each fined 6,000 baht for having a “party.” Only 6 people were gathered at the home. Police from the Cherng Talay station came by the home after a call from a neighbour.

Phuket tightens restrictions: No parties, no visits from friends | News by Thaiger

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

3 organisers of Phuket’s Kolour superspreader event charged

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: 3 managers involved in the Kolour superspreader event have been charged.

As Thailand still wrestles to control the third wave of Covid-19, much of which stems from entertainment venues in Bangkok and a massive party in Phuket, Patong police announced that the managers of the Phuket venues that hosted the Kolour superspreader event will be charged under the Emergency Decree. The case report was filed with the public prosecutor yesterday according to the Patong police chief, confirming that 3 people will be prosecuted for the event.

The Kolour Beachside Festival was held April 2 and 3 with events at Café Del Mar Phuket in Kamala, and Shelter Phuket Dance and Night Club and Illuzion Nightclub, both in Patong. Before the festival, Phuket had gone more than a hundred days without any new Covid-19 infections, but by April 7 the Phuket provincial Public Health office announced 8 new infections, half of which had been at the Kolour parties. In the following weeks, officials plead for attendees to be tested as infections spread.

Charges were delayed in being filed to the Phuket Public Prosecutor’s office as a special investigation committee was ordered to be created to oversee the investigation at the request of Region 8’s Police Commander. That committee brought together officials from various law enforcement in the area including the Patong Police, Kamala Police, Phuket Provincial Police, and the Region 8 Police to investigate the Kolour event before anyone was charged.

The manager of Café Del Mar, along with the managing director and the manager of Shelter and Illuzion, which are under the same management team, will be charged for the Kolour festival violating Thailand’s Emergency Decree that was declared to help protect the country from Covid-19 outbreaks. A breach of the Emergency Decree can be held liable for up to 40,000 Baht and 2 years in jail under Section 9 of the Decree.

The latter 2 are also facing charges of operating an unlicensed entertainment venue. This carries the possibility of another year in prison and a fine of up to 60,000 baht, in accordance with Thai Law under Section 26 of the Entertainment Place Act.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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