Westerners who choose to retire in Thailand often have concerns about keeping in contact with friends and family back home. This article continues our series on communicating from Thailand and focuses on the internet options that are available to foreigners living in Thailand.
Today the Internet is easily the world’s most used means of communicating over distance and allows foreign residents in Thailand to keep in close contact with their loved ones. Whether it is through email, social networks like Facebook or VOIP services like Skype, regularly contacting people through the Internet is convenient and reasonably priced.
The easiest way of using the Internet to communicate and one utilised by millions of tourists that visit every year is through Internet cafés. Every town in Thailand has plenty of Internet cafés, even the smallest of towns will have one- mainly to serve the local online gaming community. Another available option if you own a laptop or tablet computer is to find a WiFi hotspot. There are many options for using free a free WiFi connection in coffee shops and bars as long as you purchase something from the provider. However, public Internet access is not a comfortable option for long-stayers who will wish to use the Internet in the comfort of their own homes.
Over the past few years, Thailand’s internet providers have steadily improved, offering increased broadband speeds and a more consistent, reliable service. In most locations outside Bangkok you will struggle to find very fast connections but in the areas where most westerners live you will be able to access speeds that will allow streaming video and video calling at a reasonable price.
There are a number of possible suppliers of fixed line broadband services. TOT and TT&T are the cheapest and most used but not necessarily the fastest or most reliable. In fact the greater the number of users of a particular location is normally directly in inverse proportion to the quality of service – as a result of more people using the same bandwidth.
There are a number of other options but they do not have nationwide coverage. The most popular are CAT Telecom and True, but there may be other services available in the location where you live. One thing we strongly recommend is to talk to your neighbours about which service provider they are using and how reliable the connection. There can be enormous discrepancies in the quality of service provided to different locations. A supplier that works very well for your friend across town may not be the best for you to use so check it out before arranging your connection.
Over the past couple of years, Thailand’s mobile networks have started introducing aircards which provides Internet users with another option. The aircards use a mobile telephone connection to transmit your internet data and are competitively priced with the fixed line internet suppliers. The aircard is the size of a small memory stick and plugs into a computer’s USB port. The cards can be used in desktop PC’s but are especially useful for those people frequently on the move with laptops or tablets. The coverage for these mobile networks is growing all the time and they can receive a signal in even very remote areas although quality and speeds can be variable. Once the actual aircard is purchased users can subscribe to a number of payment plans that can be bought over the counter, effectively making them pay as you go.
Thailand has plenty of Internet options so there is no need to worry about staying in touch online.
Fixed Line Internet Providers (some of these also offer aircards)
Mobile Internet Providers