I will compare Internet speed tests for three different Internet broadband connections I’ve had the opportunity to use in Thailand. If you are going to be in Thailand, hopefully this comparison will help you to make a decision on which Internet broadband provider to choose. Of the three services tested, one utilizes a mobile wireless system that uses GSM Edge to connect to the Internet. The other two are standard ADSL services from competing companies in Thailand. All of the tests were performed using the same laptop, at approximately the same time of day. Tests were performed within 5 KM of each other in Chiang Rai Thailand.
The first broadband type I tested was the AIS wireless Edge solution. I purchased a USB Edge card from 7-11 convenience store which are everywhere Thailand. The USB card cost me 1200 Baht (around $37 USD). The price included 20 hours of wireless time.
You can purchase additional hours to the card. Adding 20 hours of time is 150 Baht (around $4.50 USD) The USB card itself houses a SIM card just like the SIM card that goes into your phone. In fact, you can swap AIS SIM cards between your phone and USB card if you want. The USB card has software built-in and I successfully Installed it on Windows XP and Windows 7 laptops. I was not able to get the card to work with Mac OS X. The software works just like any other dial-up/3G/4G modem where you click a button to connect and disconnect from the Internet.
Why test Edge and not 3G? Well, Thailand is currently caught up in legal problems with wireless carriers about allocating 3G frequencies so the current 3G offerings are very limited. Edge is the best option for nationwide coverage unfortunately. In fact, Thailand might be better off leapfrogging 3G and going straight to a 4G technology such as WiMAX or LTE. I wrote an article for Network World magazine in 2009 regarding a Cisco pilot program testing WiMAX at a University in Northern Thailand. I’ve had the opportunity to see 4G in action both in Thailand and In the United States and in both locations, I came away very impressed…much more of a true competitor to DSL than 3G wireless.
That being said, if you travel frequently, the AIS Edge is not a bad option…as long as you do not require much bandwidth. AIS claims a maximum download speed of 512 Kbps, in my tests I received 115 Kbps download and 63 Kbps upload speeds. Not very impressive but it does the job when just browsing the Internet. I even was able to do a Skype video call using this card although the video quality was pretty bad. Audio calls worked fine.
The second speed test I attempted is a DSL connection from TOT in Thailand. Most people that have DSL opt for the lowest offering which is 4000 Kbps download and 512 Kbps upload. Currently, the monthly cost for this service is 590 Baht ($18 USD) a month which includes a DSL modem/router The speed test showed a much lower download number receiving approximately 1779Kbps down and 371Kbps up.
Lastly, I tested a second popular DSL carrier in Thailand called 3BB. The ADSL tested is identical to the TOT offerings being 4000 Kbps download and 512 Kbps upload speeds. The monthly price for the service with an included DSL modem router is also the same as TOT at 590 Baht per month. Unlike the TOT service test, the 3BB download speeds were spot on. In terms of upload speeds, 3BB was a little bit lower than the TOT ADSL connection that was tested. The 3BB speed test found speeds of 4060 Kbps down and 310 Kbps up.
Please keep in mind that this is just one persons test. Your results might vary depending on location and time of day. Based on these tests, if I were to choose a DSL provider, I would go with 3BB for the far superior download test. If I really relied on frequent uploads, I would choose the TOT DSL connection. Lastly, if I needed a mobile Internet solution, I would have to go with AIS’s Edge…although 3BB’s upload speeds were fairly close and seem to burst at higher speeds.