Monday, 6 October 2008

Internet Afloat - The Story Continues In Thailand

We've recently posted quite a few stories on the use of 3G, GPRS and Edge mobile data services here in Asia (here, here & here). These are all broadband data services that piggy back on the GSM and WCDMA global cellphone standards. Consequently, if you equip yourself to operate here, your equipment will also operate in almost every other country (you just have to subscribe to a local service provider - buy a SIM card).

Whilst we operated in Malaysia using the excellent DiGi service (it was GPRS) here in Thailand we've purchased a "1-2-Call" SIM card. The service is almost as good - and it costs about the same. For about Aussie $1.00 a day we're getting unlimited internet access - its online all the time. Plus we get a generous SMS allowance as well.

Local testing here in Phuket has proved that the 1-2-Call (Edge) cellular data service is actually faster than the local ADSL fixed-wire broadband service. Yep, for a buck a day we're getting faster and more reliable internet than those who pay for fixed line ADSL broadband. Amazing.

But be careful here - if you subscribe to a service that is over-sold and under provisioned (like Celcom in some parts of Malaysia, and recently I believe Optus in some parts of Australia), your data rate will suffer, and connections will not be reliable. Consequently we look for services that are not over-sold, like DiGi in Malaysia and 1-2-Call here in Thailand. I'm sure its the same in many other parts of the world - large or dominant service providers deliver sub-standard service almost as a default. Oops, did I really say that ?

Fact is, even at GPRS or Edge speeds, the service is clearly faster, more reliable and much less expensive than the wi-fi internet services offered by marinas in this region. It really works well here. Since our original post on this topic many have followed our example, and the results have been generally good. Ian & Mona Robertson in Kuching (Sarawak) are now using DiGi (Edge Service) for their second business office, whilst Jon & Pam on SV Tweed are also delighted with Celcom's service in Langkawi. SV Taipan (David & Kris) have also written to say how happy they are. SV Aku Anka (Arja & Glen) in Langkawi read our stories and also made the jump. All these folk are using Sierra Wireless AirCard modems. We're expecting this service to keep working wherever we travel, though with variations in service cost. Right now its the best value internet access around, and it works surprisingly well for a considerable distance offshore.

July 2009 Update / Current model USB Modem is Sierra Wireless Compass 885 or 888.

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