DSL and ADSL internet rock Thailand, mates. Phone service from AIS, DTAC, True, Hutch,TOT, and TT&T
make Thailand a diverse phone rocking community, eh?
Phone System Of
The Key To Blabbering Your
"On the pathway to success,
having the right connections cannot be overestimated. In Thailand,
like everywhere else, connections are king, the right
hookups paramount. For example, if you have the wrong cellular phone charger or wireless
router cable, you won't be able to communicate."
If humans couldn't communicate lucidly with an oral language that
could be transcribed, then we'd be no better than dogs, cats,
or elephants. Some argue we are no better than dogs, cat, or
elephants. We'll leave that debate for another day.
The Thais communicate . . . a lot. Everyone has a mobile phone
nowadays. I've seen Thai toddlers with them. There are
more mobile numbers in circulation than the population
of Thailand itself.
Are Thais talkaholics or is there some other
More so than many other countries, Thailand avoids the mandatory
free-or-cheap-phone-giveaway in exchange for locking you into a
long-term plan. For instance, the latest 32 GB Apple iPhone can be
purchased in the United States for under USD 300. In the UK and
Australia, the phones are 'free.' In Thailand, a
new one will cost USD 900. The catch is that the cheaper U.S.
phone involves a mandatory 2-yr plan with AT & T. At USD 50-60 per
month, over two years this adds USD 1,200-1,400 to the cost. The
Thai phone, on the other hand, does not obligate you to sign up for a
plan, and if you do, plans are available, month-to-month, for less than USD 20 per month,
different phone operators. The ever popular
Blackberry is also more expensive in Thailand. The higher Thai price is
recouped from what you save on plans costing approximately USD 30 per
Communicating in Thai mobile style
Types Of Cellular Phone Usage
Pre-paid cellular phone usage is very,
very common in Thailand in a country where a basic cellular
phone model can be purchased for as little as USD 22 and a
SIM card for USD 1.50 to 5.00. What's more, you don't
(as in the US) require a special type of pre-paid phone.
Any GSM phone that works in Thailand will function with both
contract plans and prepaid.
Thailand broadly has three different economic segments.
The middle-class and hi-so segments are likely to be on some
kind of contract plan. A contract plan winds up
cheaper per minute for those using their phones a lot or for
business. The poorer Thais aren't using their phones
as a dictation device or for business. A prepaid plan makes sense
for this economic group, and they've embraced it.
It also makes sense for foreign travelers to Thailand here
for a short time. A user can recharge his phone credit with as little as USD 3
at a time. Phone credit vouchers are available at any
ubiquitous 7-11 outlet, Family Mart, or pharmacy.
Could recharging be any more fun?
Phone credit doesn't last forever. When you
first use your SIM card, depending upon the vendor, you will
have about two weeks to a month to use up credit.
Every instance you recharge the SIM card, the expiration
date gets pushed back a week. It doesn't matter
whether you purchase 100B or 300B of recharge credit.
Each recharging, whatever the amount, earns you another
week until expiration. If you're living in Thailand or staying for awhile, you'll eventually find that you'll have 6 months
or 9 months or a year for your credits to expire. In
other words, you'll have no pressing expiration date on the
horizon. This fact alone can make prepaid seem very
attractive to those who aren't constantly on the phone
blabbering to all their buds, acquaintances, and endless
Expiration of credit isn't as dire as it sounds. Let's
say your phone indicates your credit will expire on June 1
unless you recharge, extending the expiration date until June
8. If you don't recharge on June 1, you'll find that
you can no longer make outgoing calls but that incoming
calls can be received like before. You actually have
about two weeks from the expiration date to add more credit
before your SIM card becomes inactive. Once the credit
is recharged, any unused credit from before becomes usable
It'd be nice if the initial expiration dates were 6 months
into the future, the way it works in Indonesia.
Otherwise, the expiration system is sound. Thailand
never has a lot of dead numbers floating around, and numbers
that expire get recycled back into the pool of available
Contract plans in Thailand work much like they do in other
countries, except they're cheaper in Thailand and don't
demand the user sign up for the long term. The second
biggest mobile operator recently offered a USD 8/month plan
that includes unlimited free 1-hr calls and text messages to
other users on the network between 10 PM and 5 PM.
The biggest provider offered
similarly competitive plans which could be paid for by
Mobile Phone Service Providers In The Kingdom
There are only four real players. The original player
and still the largest is
Advanced Info Service, otherwise
known as AIS or 1-2-Call when you attempt to buy recharge
cards at 7-11. AIS was founded in 1986 and, as of
2010, had almost 29m customers. Former Thailand prime
minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the one who was ousted in a
coup in 2006 and subsequently exiled, founded the operation.
is the second largest and has 20.2m subscribers.
Those two players dominate the pre-paid market. Number
True with its True Move service. True
has around 16m subscribers. The number four provider,
Hutchison, has barely over 1m subscribers and isn't a
serious competitor. Its phone offerings are
CDMA-oriented, not what most Thais are using.
Who offers the best service? From personal experience
with both DTAC and AIS pre-paid, it's a toss up.
Better quality communications are not detectable on one
service over the other. There are those on forums who
debate one company's connections are superior to the
other in a given area. I've not experienced
this. The major advantage of AIS over DTAC, as of
this writing, is the text message confirmation: with
AIS, you get notice that your message was sent. With
DTAC, you do not. The best bet is to go with the network
that the person(s) you'll be calling the most are on, a
piece of advice I would've been wise to heed. My
girlfriend's number is the one I dial the most, and she was
originally on the same network as I purely by coincidence.
We'd setup our respective numbers before we'd met each other.
After her first phone was stolen, she purchased a SIM card
from another operator. It was a reasonable move at the
time. She had no idea what network I was on or gave
any consideration about cheaper intra-network calls.
Now that each of us has had our numbers for a number of
years, it's difficult for either of us to give up our number
to join the other's network. It is this single
obstacle that has stopped me from signing up for a phone
True's focus is mobile phone plans and internet access.
3G has finally come to Thailand, and True wants to dominate
in that segment. True originally had the sole concession for the plans offered for
the iPhone. Since then, DTAC has been able to offer
plans for the iPhone. (Warning: by the time you read
this, the types of plans and prices will have surely
changed. Do not sue us!)
Long Distance Calls
Before the computer
revolution, we were conditioned to believe that the longer a
call 'traveled', the more expensive the call. Distance has nothing to do with it.
Long distance rates are set in concert by the originating
and receiving areas' telephone carriers. Each makes money off
the call. The less competitive the carriers or
equivalently, the less competition, the more
costly the call, regardless of distance.
Long distance calls from a Thai phone, dialed directly, are
not competitively priced. Normally, from a mobile, you
dial + followed by the country code (44 = UK, 1 = USA and
Canada, 65 = Singapore, 61 = Australia), and then the number
without the leading 0. This is the most
expensive way to call. Substituting 008 for the
+ ends up cheaper. However, if you send an sms, you'll
have to use the +.
In richer industrialized countries,
landline phone service was fully entrenched before mobile
phones became affordable. Thailand does not fall into
this category. Most Thai residences are not already
wired up with a landline connection. It can
cost 1,500-2,000B to set one up. Waiting times stretch
from 10 days all the way to a month. After a landline has
been installed, it costs another 100-200B month for
maintenance and then several baht a minute to make
(unlimited length) calls in one's local region and up to 9
baht a minute in other regions. For those prices it's
cheaper to just buy a mobile phone. Facts bear this
out. Mobile phone ownership has grown at higher
rates than landline usage. There are five times as
many cellular phones than landlines.
ticket to landing a landline
The two nationwide kingpins in
charge of setting up landline service are the
Organization of Thailand (TOT) and the
Thailand Telephone and Telegraph (TT&T). True, as of this
writing, is installing fixed lines in parts of Bangkok.
Commitments are for at least a year and incur penalty
charges if cancellation of the landline is made before that
time. I don't know how much they're charging for
telegraph connections at the home. With so few people
signing up for this service, I'm sure it costs a fortune.
Given the cost of setting up a landline, the one-year
commitment a customer must make to keep it, and the
less-than-ideal charges for making local calls
(international VOIP calls are cheaper to make per minute
than local Thailand calls), why would anyone set one up?
The answer lies below.
Surfing The Wonderful
How do people in the rich world
surf the internet at glorious speeds? Using satellite,
cable, or DSL or ADSL connections. Increasingly, the
services are bundled together. A customer is
able to score significant discounts if he purchases, say,
cable internet and cable television together or a complete
phone service system along with DSL internet.
Thailand isn't bundling services together . . . not yet.
It is quite common to buy cable from one provider, internet
from another, and phone service from yet another.
Cable and satellite internet haven't caught on in a big way
for residential use. True offers cable internet in
limited areas in Bangkok at present, and satellite internet
was notoriously unreliable. DSL and ADSL are the
prevalent broadband method. When you visit an
internet cafe in Thailand, it's likely some kind of DSL.
But to obtain DSL you need a landline phone line installed.
There are ways in the West, so I've heard, to get what's
called naked DSL -- DSL internet without having to pay for
phone service. It stands to reason that with both
phone and internet signals traveling down the same wire,
it's unnecessary to have phone service in order to provide
the DSL service. While one may not have to be paying
for phone service in order to get DSL, one must have a phone
line to begin with for the DSL signal to travel through.
Take our situation. We live in a house that had a
landline previously installed. The landline phone
service comes from TOT. The internet access is
provided by TT&T. There have been instances where our
phone bill to TOT was unintentionally paid late and the landline service
terminated. Our internet continued to function.
We hardly ever use our landline for any calls besides
take-out restaurant orders, as it's more economical to use
our cellular phones. But since the telephone
maintenance charges are so little and the phone line has
already been installed, we keep it.
If one lives in an apartment building, DSL internet is
usually provided at no extra charge. If the building
does not offer DSL to all tenants, it can be difficult to
get the phone company to install a line in just your
apartment because setting up the wiring can be tricky,
particularly in older buildings. In the West, such
tenants would opt for cable or satellite. Tough breaks
for those in Thailand.
PROVIDERS Providers vary by locale. TOT is everwhere.
So is TT&T with their
KSC offers DSL and ISDN in certain areas of the country
like Chiangmai, Ayuthaya, Chonburi, Phuket, and Songkhla to
name a few.
CS Loxinfo and True also offer high speed plans.
Prices are disproportionately expensive compared to the cost
of living for many other items in Thailand but reasonable
all the same since you don't have to pay for the services in
expensive bundled form in order to get a deal.
to not get the speeds you're paying for. We
currently pay USD 26 per month, with no long term commitment
necessary, for what's supposed to be
download speeds of 5,120 Kbps and upload speeds of 512 Kbps.
For two years we weren't consistently getting even the speeds the
USD 19 plan is supposed to offer. On the bright side,
a neighbor once had a private line dragged to his home and
was paying USD 77/month for speeds only about 10% faster
than our own. On a recent speed test though, we got
close to the promised speeds. Feels good to get what
you pay for for a change.
Be prepared to also have your service go down.
Ill weather or rats can mutilate your DSL wires.
Calls to customer service are likely to get blown off and
you may have to wait a few days before a repairman comes
over to deal with your problem.
Dial up still exists, but I have yet to meet anyone who
uses it. It's more convenient to pay 30B/hour to use
an internet cafe's computers that get onto the internet via
DSL or ADSL
internet are so divine. But you need a landline phone line for 'em. How about
great mobile service from AIS, DTAC, True,o or Hutch. If you want a landline, give
TOT or TT&T a ring in Thailand