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Wi-fi access & quality of feed

Melbourne, Australia
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2,417 posts
52 reviews
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Wi-fi access & quality of feed

Hi, just bought a laptop and I'm going to Bangkok and Phuket. We've got wi-fi access in Melbourne with a Vodafone dongle but the access is unreliable and when we get it it's very slow. The whole purporse of getting the laptop was to be able to communicate with our kids back in Melbourne via skype etc while we are overseas. What carrier I should be using in Thailand to get good consistant reliable coverage for wi-fi laptop or am I just dreaming?

Perth, Australia
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1. Re: Wi-fi access & quality of feed

just make sure the wirless is working and connect to the hotel if its free

or the hotels do charge but not to much .

just a thought

Bangkok, Thailand
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2. Re: Wi-fi access & quality of feed

WiFi is widely (but not universally) available and speeds vary a lot depending on the packages the wifi is using. Most hotels are a bit slow and charge through the nose for it. A lot of wifi is charged for but this website lists some of the free one (its not been up dated in several months)

stickmanweekly.com/WiFi/ThailandFreeWireless…

I use a "MiFi" dongle with a SIM card which serves me very well. The best overall coverage is AIS, DTAC is very close behind, and True not far behind DTAC. True has the best 3G cover, but all 3G is very limited.

Savannah, Georgia
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3. Re: Wi-fi access & quality of feed

When you say " wi-fi access in Melbourne with a Vodafone dongle" I wonder what you mean -- wi-fi is a short-range technology, and it's built into your laptop. It doesn't require a dongle. It connects to a wi-fi access point that you purchase and plug into your home broadband router, or to publicly available wi-fi access points at hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, etc.

If you're plugging in a USB device it's probably something like this:

…cbsi.com.au/story_media/339313602/VodafoneM…

... which is a 3G or 4G cellular modem. It's probably rigged to work only on Vodaphone's data network (or bill you for insane roaming rates), and maybe not worth bringing on a trip at all, as Thailand has almost no mobile broadband services. The GSM phone networks will give you very, very slow data connectivity that is not suitable for Skype or for that matter Web browsing. Check with Vodaphone to see if your dongle is unlocked and can take other telcos' SIM cards.

As for wi-fi: Most hotels do have wi-fi for customers, although you may have to pay a bit extra. It seems that all over the world, cheaper hotels give you free breakfast and free wi-fi, but expensive ones charge you through the nose for both.

Quality and speed varies just as it does everywhere else in the world. You may not have any trouble at all on hotel wi-fi and you'll definitely be able to do email and Web browsing. Hotel wi-fi can get jammed up in the late evening and early morning hours when guests all pile onto the network at once. That can interfere with video and Skype.

Added to that is Thailand's general network flakiness and occasional power outages. Power and phone network wiring in Bangkok is a nightmare of tangles like this:

www.loupiote.com/photos/2632655563.shtml

It's a wonder anything works at all.

Berlin/Bangkok
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for Bangkok, Berlin, Thailand
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34 reviews
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4. Re: Wi-fi access & quality of feed

Yelvington is sorta correct on most points. As he says, the mobile connectivity you're getting via a dongle is probably cellular-based 4G, 3G or 2G (Edge or GPRS), not wifi. There IS some 3G in Thailand now, mainly in Bangkok and other urban centres and it's reasonably fast. When a 3G card (or USB device) fails to locate a 3G network, it defaults to 2G. In Thailand that means Edge. Edge speed is reasonable when it's working properly, for functions such as checking email or surfing the web. When it's bad, though, it's horrid. I recently experienced this on the island of Koh Jum. At certain random times of the day or middle of the night, I'd suddenly get going at a reasonable speed. Other times it would drag and drag and then just stop. At one point it failed entirely for a couple days.

But in Bangkok I've used it on my iPhone all over the place including underground in the MRT and it's fast.

But neither 3G nor Edge are technically capable of running Skype.

A data plan giving you 150 MB for a month costs about 200 baht. Go for a plan in which you buy bandwidth, not time online. If your card from Oz doesn't work, you can get another one in Thailand for under 1000 baht.

Actual wifi is available for free in the rooms and public areas now in most hotels, including luxury ones. But the big name-brand chains may still charge you an arm and a leg. It's also in a lot of cafés and bars, too many for Stickman's list to ever mention. You'll need wifi if you want to Skype, though.

Melbourne, Australia
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2,149 posts
26 reviews
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5. Re: Wi-fi access & quality of feed

I also had a Vodaphone dongle and it was freakin useless! We got infinity better internet coverage in Khao Lak last year (go figure hey?!).

We used DTAC/Happy and I think we will use them again this trip or perhaps as bbtony suggests, AIS. I was really suprised to think I could get better internet coverage on a deserted beach on Thailand than I could in the suburbs of Melbourne.

Sure it won't be super fast but it should do you for a bit of browsing, checking FB, TA :)

Pawtucket, RI
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6. Re: Wi-fi access & quality of feed

If you have never used wifi and always had to use a dongle device practice a bit before you go on your trip. Since your laptop is new the store you bought it from will show you how to turn on the wifi switch if you don't know. There are places in many cities that offer free wifi - try one of those places out. If you have McDonalds restaurants they often have free wifi. Not sure about your airport but often you can also get a free wifi connection at airports.

onlymelbourne.com.au/melbourne_details.php…

In Thailand I find free wifi at many cheap hotels while some expensive places charge for it!! You can also bring your own laptop to an internet shop and pay to use it. Rough price maybe one half baht to one baht per minute. Or use the internet shop's computers. There are many internet shops all over popular cities in Thailand.

Chiang Mai, Thailand
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2,088 posts
54 reviews
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7. Re: Wi-fi access & quality of feed

If your only issue is skype just use the hotel wifi. I do this and find if it is a bit slow I just turn off the video and use sound only. I usually find the hotel wifi is ample to make a call to home. One of my factors in booking a hotel is free wifi as some can have over the top rates if you have to pay for use.

Perth, Australia
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1,046 posts
9 reviews
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8. Re: Wi-fi access & quality of feed

last year in pattaya at my hotel with my wife

we used the wirless internet on my laptop

FREE OF CHARGE

just a thought

Bangkok, Thailand
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15,864 posts
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9. Re: Wi-fi access & quality of feed

"as Thailand has almost no mobile broadband services" - I would contest that. I use mobile broadband on a daily basis. Its not lightening fast but it does the job.

Berlin/Bangkok
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for Bangkok, Berlin, Thailand
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34 reviews
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10. Re: Wi-fi access & quality of feed

<<Its not lightening fast but it does the job>>

As I said above, it depends on your location. As I recently experienced, on an outlying island it can be so frustrating you find yourself cursing your mobile device.

In Bangkok (and I imagine other urban centres), it's quite fast and reliable.

Edited: 26 March 2012, 12:47