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4G wifi on the beach

How To Be Online Anywhere In Thailand

According to a report released by the digital marketing firm “We Are Social” there are 97 million registered mobile phone connections in Thailand, of which 75% are broadband (3G or 4G) enabled. The number of active mobile internet users currently stands at 17.7 million, or around 27% of the entire population and the average Thai (with mobile internet connectivity) spends just under 4 hours every day online. As internet capable smartphones are becoming more and more available in Thailand the demand is insatiable.

From experience, I would say the 3G internet services offered by operators in Thailand are fairly decent when compared to others nearby and most Western countries. During my first few months in Thailand I relied solely on a prepaid 3G mobile internet package offered by AIS 3G.

The basic 500 baht/month package got me unlimited speeds with a 1Gb data limit. A nice feature was that even if I exceeded the 1Gb threshold, browsing would still be possible (albeit unbearably slow). Still fast enough for social media & email apps though so not completely useless. It’s convenient and reliable, with quick access wherever there’s mobile reception and I found it especially handy on whilst travelling on ferries or overland.

A 1Gb data limit is however no match for browsing “full” websites (tethering a laptop to your phone and using its 3G connection). I tethered my laptop to my phone on a couple of occasions for work purposes when up in Isaan and soon used up my whole data package. I was then restricted to buying 150Mb “top-ups” at 150 baht each until the month rolled over and my phone was billed another 500 baht, quite expensive when it all adds up!. An alternative had to be found and it came in the form of AIS 3G’s “Pocket Wifi” device.

The “Pocket Wifi” device is a simple 3G modem and provides you with your very own private WiFi connection wherever you are (granted there’s a strong enough mobile phone signal). The device comes in 2 speeds & I opted for 21.6Mbs, more than enough for checking emails, browsing and light streaming. This came at a price of 1,600 baht and I chose the prepaid (1-2-Call! SIM) version. Like the prepaid 3G internet, you have a choice of multiple monthly data plans and I opted for 4 GB for 400 baht/month, more than enough for emails, browsing and some light streaming. Set up was quick and simple, all done in-store and I had the device up and running within minutes.

In the long run, if you intend on travelling and need constant access to the internet then a portable 3G modem is the way to go. You could get by with prepaid mobile internet but when tethering your phone to your laptop, the 3G modem is definitely more cost effective. 3G internet in Thailand has been made to cater to the masses, and without a doubt its main use here is social media. This means it’s cheap to connect to, but expensive (compared to a fixed WiFi connection) if you want to use it for much else. All in all I’d say I’m fairly satisfied with the quality of mobile internet available in Thailand. Mobile phone signal can be found virtually anywhere and it works in a pinch, albeit considerably more expensive than a WiFi connection. If you’re going to stay put in a place for a while, you might want to re consider 3G as your primary internet source but it may quickly become your best friend if you’re travelling around.

How to get AIS Super Wifi on 802.11ac

AIS has launched a new Wifi service branded with the name AIS Super Wifi which is showing up around Bangkok and Thailand.  This new service operators on the Wireless AC Technology (IEEE802.11ac).    802.11ac has a throughput of at least 1 gigabit per second and a single link throughput of at least 500 megabits per second (500 Mbit/s).  This new standard is about 3x faster than the previous standard, 802.11n.

In real world speeds recorded in testing are around 720Mbps (90MBps) for 802.11ac. By contrast 802.11n tops out at about 240Mbps (30MBps).  AIS advertises speeds of 650 Mbps, which is nice as companies usually state the theoretical speeds as the real speeds a user could get.

Other benefits: 802.11ac has stronger, more directed range and is better on your battery because WiFi needs to be active for less time when data transfers can complete more quickly.

ais super wifi

Which devices can use it?

802.11ac is being built into any quality device made today, like iPhone 6, but iPhone 5 and older does not have the AC chip.  Samsung S4 has the chip but S3 does not. For more on devices with 802.11ac check this list.

 

ais 3g wifi passwordHow can I get it?

First you have to be in range of an AIS hotspot.  You will see something like .@ AIS SUPER WiFi as a hotspot name.  Then, you have to be a user of the iSmart 3G data package of 500 Baht or more per month to have free access.   If you are just dial *338*1# to get your wifi password via SMS.   If you’re not a iSmart package user you can get this package: 20GB for 99 Baht (not incl VAT) by dialing *777*384#.

If you just want the Wifi and if you don’t want those packages or want to switch a package, you can get AIS Super Wifi for 99 Baht/month by dialing *388*40#.  This is the stand alone package, you can add to your existing  service.

For those who have never before registered for AIS WiFi service :

  1. Choose the @ AISwifi network and then login using your User Name and Password. You will be automatically logged in through WiFi Auto Login.
  2. Then, return to .@ AIS SUPER WiFi so your smart phone or device will automatically remember the network to login automatically.

For AIS WiFi users

  1. Select .@ AIS SUPER WiFi so your smart phone or device will automatically remember the network to login automatically.

 

Where is it?

AIS wifi is mostly in big public places like malls and airports.  Best you find that it fits into your day to day schedule before considering to spend the money on it.  If you are a user already, then it’s quite easy to start using.

 

Speed tests at Emporium

Singapore:

speed test ais wifi
In Thailand:
speed test ais wifi 802.11ac

 A video showing the speed in a controlled environment

 

MobileTopup.com

New mobile topup credit service

MobileTopup.com has just launched in beta and users can now go and try out the new online top up service here.

The features of the new mobile credit service are:

  • Flat fee is  4% – 200 Baht of credit will cost you 208 Baht.
  • Automatic reoccurring monthly billing
  • Top up amounts are 50 – 800 Baht
  • Use of the newest and easiest Thai Baht credit card processor
  • Support for True Move, DTAC Happy and AIS 12Call PAYG

The beta is Facebook sign in only, and credit cards or local bank visa / master ATM cards are the payment method.

The recurring monthly billing is quite interesting since one of the pain points of pre-paid is having to top up.  With recurring billing turned on, you send a fixed amount each month, and the means no more trips to 7-11 or entering top up codes.   Of course unlink giving the carrier your credit card where they bill you any amount, here you’ll be limited to fixed amounts each month.   As people move to data only voice plan this, should be just fine.

MobileTopup.com

 

 

 

 

 

AIS launches prepaid sub-brand called YOU!

YOU! MOBILEAs if you don’t hear “YOU! YOU! YOU!” enough in Thailand, AIS has now launched a prepaid service under the YOU! brand name.  The service launches with an app and website with a goal of allowing users to manage aspects of their accounts online.   This covers things like checking and changing your data or calling package, usage history or points.   Additionally you can do some forms of credit card payment with select Visa and Mastercards.

While many of these services have been a part of any 12Call user’s online account for some time, it seems that it’s time for a new brand and of course brand mascot.

 

YOU! Account

The main goal of the service and site is to get prepaid users to easily choose and change data and calling packages.  With their fancy selector, you can choose your monthly payment amount and then choose how much 3G/4G data you want vs calling time.

 

YOU! MOBILE -package-change YOU!

 

To get a free YOU! Mobile SIM, they have an online form you can fill out.  I’ll update the post if my request is successful, but they even go so far as to let you choose your own number in addition to SIM size.  You’ll need a 13 digit ID number and signed ID copy to upload.

how to get a sim

Once you submit your request you can track the status of your order.  The website states 1 day delivery in Bangkok and 3 Day delivery around Thailand.   There is also a 50 Baht bonus once you topup up 50 Baht the first time.

YOU! MOBILE - tracking

YOU! mobile is AIS 12Call

Just to make it clear, YOU! mobile is just a sub-brand that works just like any AIS 12Call mobile does.   Besides having it’s own brand, it uses the same prepaid top up channels meaning you can top it up with and 12Call scratch card at 7-11 or at any online service like Thailand Topup, in addition to the channels offered in the app.   The for more stuff check out their facebook page.

 

Update:  Just got my free YOU! Sim in the mail.  Took about 5 days and was sent registered mail.  So follow the above steps if you want one too.

 

 

 

True Mobile only Company with Growth in 2014

Bangkok Post is reporting Thailand has a total of 94 million mobile phone subscribers on the big 3 networks, with a total of 76% of those using 3G data.  Slower growth this year is blamed on the coup and political unrest.

AIS still retains it’s lead with 15 million more subscribers than the number 2 DTAC.  Unsurprisingly True Move, which has been advertising 4G services well before their official launch, is only 5 million subscribers behind DTAC.

AIS has 19,300 3G base stations operating on the 2100-megahertz spectrum, covering 95% of population.

 

 

 

opensignal.com

Crowdsourced network speed testing from OpenSignal.com

Open SignalWhat’s the best way to find out the best 3G or 4G network? Let all the users using the network report back with their experience. That’s what a new company called Open Signal aims to crowd source.

How does crowd sourced 3G mapping work?

We can all help to improve their coverage maps by grabbing the Android or iPhone apps. Once installed the app pings the cellular network you’re on and report back to the Open Signal servers. By recording the speed, network, tower and GPS location, Open Signal can determine which network has the best coverage in each area. Since speeds in any given area are constantly in flux, the data you see on the site today won’t be the same in the future. Also for now, the number of people in Thailand with the app is quite small, so the network survey is limited to those using the app.

Thailand cities and their best networks

Below are links to the maps of the major cities in Thailand, the current best network and their ranking compared to worldwide averages.

  • Bangkok – TOT 3G – 17% Better than worldwide average
  • Chiang Mai – AIS   – 35% Better than worldwide average
  • Pattaya – AIS  – 15% Better than worldwide average
  • Hua Hin – DTAC – 33% Better than worldwide average
  • Phuket – DTAC – 25% Better than worldwide average
  • Hat Yai – AIS – 49% Better than worldwide average
  • Khon Kaen – True Move – 29% Better than worldwide average

Bangkok 3G map

Power of the crowd

Open Signal aims to provide visualizations and analysis based on the data collected, including cellular coverage maps that show exactly how strong signal is in any particular area, as well as all the nearby towers for your carrier. As this data comes from users with the app, the info is not quite a good representation of carriers in Thailand – yet. Looking at this map of towers, it’s clear that much more data for Thailand is still needed. bangkok cell towers The site has a goal of being the “global authority on wireless networks” and to get there they will need a large install base.

Mobile data usage tracking

The mobile app has a few nice features besides just helping with a supply of user generated data for the maps on the site. One of the nicest features of the app is the data usage display. The app keeps track of your 3G data usage as well as your Wi-Fi data usage. The good thing about this is you can keep tabs on your cellular data allowance as well as realize the whole amount of usage you put through your smartphone. They also provide a month-to-month graph to give you some data visualization ability. iphone data usage

mf65

AIS Pocket Wifi Review – ZTE MF65

The ZTE MF65 AIS version

AIS has launched a new model of pocket wifi device from ZTE (China). The device is know as the MF 65 and is a full featured 3G pocket Wifi router. The router is sold unlocked, meaning you can use it with AIS, DTAC or True Move – or any other SIM card in the world. The firmware is branded with AIS, but does not prevent you from using worldwide.

Upgrade or not

The device is narrower than the previous AIS Huawei (Pronounced “Hallway”) model, and a bit longer. Roughly the same thickness. Is it an upgrade? Well the ZTE has more features, larger battery, and at the same price point, so it’s and easy easy decision on which is better from a feature standpoint.

ZTE vs Huawei

 

 

What’s in the box

Let’s see what you get when you purchase an AIS pocket wifi.

ais pocket wifi 02-12call-pocket-wifi 03-IMG_5467 04-IMG_5469

The contents of the box include SIM card, charger, device, warranty card and English manual.  The SIM gives you some basic free usage, and then you’ll have to top up and get on one of their 3G plans.

zte mf65 battery

The battery size is 1500 mAh, larger than the previous device from Huawei which was 1150 mAh.

06-ZTE-mf65-sim

Normal SIM slot and Micro SD slot.  The previous Huawei had no Micro SD.

07-ztemf65-open zte mf 65

2 Buttons, 3 Lights.

09-IMG_5474 10-IMG_5476

USB wall charger and cable.

 

Setting up 3G on your device

To get started start up the device after putting the sim card in.   The sim card is inactive so just putting the SIM in the pocket wifi won’t activate it or start 3G.   You need to manually active the sim.

Here’s how:

1. Turn on your device and connect to the hotspot named “AIS 3G POCKET WIFI 21.6 Mbps”.  The wifi pass key is in the inside back cover.

11-IMG_5477

2.  Once your computer or device is connected, in your browser go to http://m.home/index.asp  or http://192.168.0.1  You will see the following screen once you click EN.

Home Screen

3. Click on “Activate SIM” in the lower left hand box.   This sends a USSD activation message to start up the SIM. This has to be done in Thailand.  To check it’s working go back to the main page  and you should see a bunch of SMS messages and as well as connected in top right.

You should now be online and surfing the interwebs.  When we activated we got about 10 SMS messages, so if your inbox fills up, you’ll know your active.

 

Other Features:

The home screen gives you several shortcut options.

Change Wifi Name

change wifi

Change Wifi Key

AIS 3G Pocket Wifi-6

Topup up with 12Call scratch card voucher. (From any 7-11)

top up code

SMS messages inbox

sms inbox

 

Advanced Menu Options

In the advanced menu you have all the device options, which are most features you’d expect to find on a full featured router, plus more.

Phonebook – Has stored numbers as well as you can add your own for SMS texting from the device.

sms phone book

SMS – Send a new message, read, reply and delete old messages.  Save on the SIM or on the device.  Settings allow you to change SMS center number and change validity.

SMS management

 

SD Card  – Put in a micro SD card in the device to enable.

SD Card
HTTP Share Mode:Share the SD card via the Web browser and the removable drive mapping of the SD card via USB port will be disabled.
USB Access Only:Only user via USB cable can access the SD card by the removable drive mapping, the Web page of sharing SD card will be disabled.

Once you put in the SD card you’ll see.

AIS 3G Pocket Wifi-11

AIS 3G Pocket Wifi-14

Sharing the contents looks like this.

AIS 3G Pocket Wifi-12

Settings – Full router settings

router settings

USSD – Codes for your sim card

AIS 3G Pocket Wifi-16

 

Status  – Check on the stats of your usage, your network and various version numbers.

AIS 3G Pocket Wifi-17 AIS 3G Pocket Wifi-18 AIS 3G Pocket Wifi-20

 

Using with another carrier

We put a DTAC sim in just to test and this is what we got.  No configuration needed, just put it in and it worked.

test with dtac sim

 

 

Device Specifications

  • Dimensions      102mm × 50mm × 13.7mm
  • Battery      1500mAh
  • Wi-Fi      Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, 10 Wi-Fi connections
  • Messaging      SMS
  • OS Compatibility      Win8, Win7, Windows XP, Vista, Linux, Mac OS
  • Memory      MicroSD Slot, up to 32GB
  • Others      OLED Screen display, 3 LED light indicators, AP/STA, Multi SSID, WPS, IPv6
  • Radio      HSPA+/HSUPA/HSDPA/UMTS 2100/1900/900 (850)MHz
    EDGE/GPRS/GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
  • Peak Data Rate      HSPA+:DL 21.6Mbps/UL 5.76Mbps

 

Summary

The device is easy to use, easy to connect to, has a days battery life and should do a nice job of filling in the gaps of where you don’t have proper or working wifi in Thailand.  Given that it’s unlocked, and you can use it worldwide, it’s a device for any regular traveler.  It’s also a step up from the previous AIS pocket wifi offering.

As for battery life,  got about 4 hours of continuous usage.

Mobile Expo at Queen Sirikit

The mobile expo is on October 3-6 at Queen Sirikit convention center. The Mobile Expo is essentially a huge phone and accessory sale. If you’re in the market for an android-based smart phone or device this event has what you’re looking for.

Notable brands that showed up this year are in Ais, DTAC, Truemove, Samsung, Sony, Lenovo, and a handful of Thai brands.

The biggest booths were held by Samsung, AIS, Dtac, Nokia and Truemove. Apple of course was nowhere to be seen, however I can easily see why they would not want to be associated with the plethora of choice that has become android.

On display at the Samsung booth was a full line of android phones as well as their new smartwatch. The smartwatch was double the thickness of my pebble watch and quite a bit of chunky metal on your arm. I can’t see any mass adoption for this particular model, but surely will get slimmer and easier to use in the future.

The major non-phone product I noticed for sale was supplemental battery packs. These were everywhere in every color and size, a sign of the current lack of battery power in today’s smart phones.

The Intel booth displayed some products like the fitbit and jawbone devices, but they were not for sale.

The bottom line for this event is that it’s for selling phones and accessories. There’s not a whole lot of cutting edge tech on display. If you’re looking for a new android phone this would be the place to come.

A few photos from the 2013 Bangkok Mobile Expo

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floorplan1

Compare True Move, AIS and DTAC in Google Trends

Google trends compares search terms over time.  You can be a great way to gauge interest and popular ready for various search terms.  Just like Twitter hashtags, Google also shows what the breakout search terms are and how they compare to each other.

I did a little comparison on the three major carriers in Thailand.   The graph below shows the interest Google searchers have in the search terms Ais Thailand, Dtac Thailand, and Truemove Thailand.   Also arise graph, so feel free to check back here anytime to see the progress.
To have some more fun, I did another search. In Google search trends you can also select the search country. The graph below is searches from inside Thailand for the search terms Samsung and iPhone.

006 true move

International calling from Thailand

While in Thailand, you might find the need to call your family friends or business associates back in your home country.  Doing so these days easier than ever before.  From VoIP options, Skype, or carrier discounted international calling programs, the options are plentiful.  Finding the right calling tool for you will depend on who you’re calling, what type of a call it is, and your quality expectations.

 

App Options

These options are ways you can use an app on your smart phone make international calls.

Skype

By now most of us are familiar with Skype and it’s abilities.  Loading Skype with some credit, gives you the ability to call any number in the world directly from the app on your smart phone.  This can be done with Wi-Fi or over the 3G.  Call rates are competitive, and for the ease-of-use definitely worth it.  Rates are however almost double some of the hard-core VoIP rates.   If you really need to do a lot of international calling you may want to check some of the sit providers or, sign up for one of Skype’s package pricing deals.

Google Voice

talkatoneWhile and exciting option, Google voice is only available for US customers, or savy individuals can use the USA VPN or proxy, and have access to USA phone number.  One set up you have a USA phone number that anyone can reach you want.  Google voice has many features, but one of the best for outbound calling is the ability to call any number in the US and Canada for free.   To take advantage of this ability directly from your smartphone you need an app called Talkatone.  Once set up, you can use the keypad to call any USA number and make a free call.  As for caller ID, your Google voice number will show on the destination phone.

Line

line naverLine is the latest multi-messaging app sweeping the world. Line has both a desktop and smart phone client, with chat, voice recording and live voice options.  It works exactly like Skype in the way you can make a free call to anyone on your contact list.

Viber

viberViber’s popularity maybe on the decline, but it is the original smart phone calling app. While it came out before Line and provided a very easy to use service for calling anyone in your address book, its user base has now been surpassed by the popularity of line.

Facetime and Facetime audio

facetime audioMany Apple users are already familiar with FaceTime. FaceTime audio simply FaceTime without the video connection.  This means this is simply a direct phone call.  This works over 3G or Wi-Fi.  In the test I have done here the only major problem is the connection time, while the call quality is quite good with only an occasional lag.  To use FaceTime audio need iOS 7 update.  The downside is the person you’re calling also has to have iOS 7 and FaceTime audio.

Tango

Tango is an audio and video chat app.  Again both parties will need to have this installed to make a free voice or video call.

3CX Phone

3cx sip clientWhen you have the need to call any number anywhere, what you need is a sip VoIP client for your smartphone.  There are many SIP clients available for your smart phone but the one I’m currently using is the Free 3CX phone app.  Like any sit client, you will need to have a VoIP account with a SIP provider.

Carrier Options

All the Thai carriers have ability to call internationally from your mobile phone.  While the prices have become more competitive, there are ways to get even better rates when making a call from your Thai mobile phone.   All of these free fax services ask you to dial a number prefix and then the number you want to call like this: dial cheap prefix –> Country Code –> City Code –> Local Number

True Move

006 true moveTruemove users can use an International direct dialing service.  By using the prefix 006, you can get rates of 3 baht per minute 22 international destinations.

You can check the rates by dialing *006*Country Code#  dial.

To make premium grade international call via true 006 to fixed line or mobile number all over the world.
Just dial 006 –> Country Code –> City Code –> Local Number
(without the “0” before local number)

Example: Call Tokyo, Japan
Dial 006 –>81 –> 3 –> 67XXXXXX

More Details

AIS

ais 005AIS offers several international direct dialing service.  Please include dialing 005, 00500, 001, 009, 007 or 008.

International call service is the service that enables you to use your AIS One-2-call! mobile phone to make international outgoing call to the foreign destination numbers.

You can make international call by yourself.

  • Make call via AIN network : 005 Globaline , 00500
  • Make call via CAT network: 001, 009
  • Make call via TOT network: 007, 008

AIS customers can now make international call by pressing “+” to represent access code 005 from AIN GlobalComm
or by directly pressing 001, 005, 007, 008, 009 or 00500 to access international call services from other providers.

DTAC

dtac 004Dtac has the same international discounted calling service by dialing 004.

  • Dial access code 004 = call through Dtac Network Co., Ltd
  • Dial access code 001 or 009 = call through  CAT Telecom PCL.
  • Dial access code 007 or 008 = call through TOT PCL.

Prices to the US start at 8 Baht per minute, and you can check prices to any country here.

Software options

 

SIP Providers

This is protocol is a non-proprietary system for making international calls.  While a company like Skype uses their proprietary method for making calls, the SIP protocol is used by thousands of companies offering various types of calling programs and packages.  In general you will need an account with a sip provider, and then a hard or soft phone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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