Internet in Hua Hin
The Internet has become almost a commodity item, and has exploded in popularity with increasing numbers of people relying on it for leisure, work, or simply as a useful source of information. As a result, access to the Internet has become an important part of our everyday lives and nowadays it’s possible to enjoy movies, music, games and other multimedia content over a home broadband connection.
Thailand still lags behind most developed countries regarding Internet speed, reliability and availability, but the good news is that it’s rapidly catching up. Despite this, there is still a long way to go before it reaches the high levels of broadband adoption found in most Western countries and Asian neighbours such as Japan, South Korea and Singapore. Thailand consistently ranks around 50th in international speed rankings, while Hua Hin is about 20th within Thailand (dated August, 2011).
Internet in Hua Hin is mainly provided by several nationwide service providers, as well as numerous Internet shops, hotels and guesthouses. Wireless and mobile access is also available in Hua Hin but there are a few considerations and limitations in each case. Unsurprisingly, there is nowhere near the same choice as in Bangkok and other large cities, but there are a few reliable Internet companies to choose from. In this article, we cover the main consumer oriented (rather than business) options to get online in Hua Hin.
The cheapest and most basic Internet access available, dial-up provides only rudimentary connectivity and painfully slow speeds. The technology has been around for decades and should not be considered as a serious option for the majority of today’s bandwidth hungry users, and is certainly unsuitable for online video and music. Dial-up access requires only a phone line and modem, and is usually billed as a simple phone call to a special access number. It might be suitable for customers that only need sporadic access to emails or that don’t want to have a monthly subscription. Several companies in Hua Hin such as True Internet provide dial-up access, however we advise you to choose broadband instead unless you’re a light Internet user and don’t expect to be online much.
ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line), or broadband as it’s more often known, is the most common consumer level Internet technology that allows high speed access over a regular copper phone line or cable. The actual speeds that can be achieved depend on many factors, such as the quality of the phone lines, the distance to the telephone exchange and street level telecommunications equipment, your computer’s capabilities, and the number of other users on the same shared connection. Download speeds are always higher than upload speeds (hence the term asymmetric) which is suitable for most people’s usage, as they tend to download more content than they upload.
Advertised broadband speeds are rarely achievable due to the factors mentioned above, and will almost certainly be much lower at busy times of the day such as when schools finish, when thousands of children go to Internet shops to play online games. Users that are closer to the centre of Hua Hin will generally receive faster speeds.
Also, because the Internet lines are shared between users in the local area, the contention ratio is an important and rarely advertised factor to consider. A contention ratio of 50 to 1 is very poor and means that 50 other users are competing for bandwidth on the same link. For more expensive Internet subscriptions, it’s possible to achieve a much lower contention ratio which means that you’ll be getting more of the valuable bandwidth that you are paying for. Another factor is whether your service provider limits your time online, the data allowance, or bandwidth (i.e. speed) by throttling back your data rate. Going over your data limit for example, may result in your connection speed being downgraded until the next month.
Since a phone line or cable is required you may need to have a new line installed, which can add to the overall cost. This process may take up to a week. Since the telephone cables in Hua Hin are above street level, it’s relatively easy for the phone companies to put in a new line. Since the existing lines and infrastructure in Thailand are usually quite old and poorly maintained, having a new line installed could be a good option.
It’s also possible to get broadband through your TV company over a physical cable, which can support extremely high Internet speeds. Lastly, there are also consumer leased line options but these are usually the most expensive. In Hua Hin, broadband speeds are currently advertised between 6 Mbps and 100 Mbps for the more expensive options.
Typical broadband speeds and prices in Hua Hin are shown below. Note that these figures are only an approximate guide and are subject to change over time, as prices fall and speeds continuously improve. The price also depends on the technology used (such as ADSL or cable), and an additional VAT charge of 7% is normally added to the bill. There may also be various one off installation fees to pay.
As an indication of the speeds, with a dedicated 6 Mbps connection it’s theoretically possible to download a 60 minute long music album in around 80 seconds, or a movie in just 25 minutes, although in practice it could take twice as long or even more.
|Downlink Speed||Uplink Speed||Monthly Price|
|6 Mbps||512 Kbps||฿600|
|9 Mbps||1 Mbps||฿900|
|12 Mbps||1 Mbps||฿1400|
|16 Mbps||1 Mbps||฿2300|
|20 Mbps||4 Mbps||฿3000|
|50 Mbps||20 Mbps||฿3500|
The main Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) in Hua Hin include 3BB, CAT, True and TOT.
More details can be found in the ISP section below.
When it’s not possible to get decent broadband coverage and especially in more remote areas, a satellite connection can be a good option as it will provide connectivity just about everywhere. However, you do need to have a dish installed. Consumer satellite Internet speeds in Thailand range between 128 Kbps up to around 1 Mbps, which is much lower than ADSL and cable and the monthly cost is considerably higher. Since broadband is available all over Hua Hin, satellite connectivity should not be needed.
Companies such as CSLOXINFO can provide the necessary equipment and connection options with their IPSTAR package. TOT also has satellite a service with speeds of up to 1 Mbps for home customers.
Telephone: +66 (0)22 638 000
Telephone: +66 (0)32 511 173-75
WiFi is a popular and convenient way to access the Internet, especially when you are on the move with a laptop or mobile phone, and can even be used directly at home without a fixed line connection. However, the network speeds may be lower compared with normal ADSL broadband. The technology is also subject to interference and is affected by many factors, such as the countless other WiFi hotspots, your proximity to the transmitter, the number of other users, the weather, and any other nearby devices that transmit radio waves (such as microwave ovens).
Many hotels, guesthouses, cafes and Internet shops all over Hua Hin have their own local WiFi hotspot, which connects back to the ISP over a local broadband connection. This might be a good option if you want to occasionally surf the Internet or check emails, and don’t want to sign up for an account with an Internet company.
In recent years, services such as Hua Hin City Wide and Sunshine Internet have sprung up that have widespread WiFi connectivity around Hua Hin. City Wide gives free but limited access with speeds of only 100 Kbps (around 60 times slower than most basic broadband packages) for up to two hours of continuous use, after which time you need to login again. The area covered is roughly between Soi 32 and continues along the main Petchakasem Road through Hua Hin all the way to Khao Takiab. Customers can also pay and upgrade to much higher speeds (several Mbps) using a prepaid voucher that can be activated at any time. Registration is required and can be done online or by SMS. Sunshine Internet offers up to 4 Mbps, accessed with prepaid vouchers that last between 1 hour and 1 month, which must be bought in person at the shop.
Some of the local broadband and phone companies also have wireless Internet packages, and special deals combining WiFi with 3G (mobile) access. Unfortunately, not that many WiFi hotspots have materialised yet in Hua Hin and are currently more popular in densely populated areas such as Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai. It’s only a matter of time though before more hotspots do appear in Hua Hin, so it’s worth checking the situation from time to time. The ISP’s and phone companies publicise their hotspot coverage on their respective websites, mainly in Thai.
The following companies have numerous WiFi hotspots in Hua Hin.
Telephone: +66 (0)32 900 000-1
Wide Access Company
Telephone: +66 (0)2793 9399
Telephone: +66 (0)32 513 896
Mobile Internet (GPRS, EDGE, and 3G)
The main mobile networks AIS, DTAC, and True Move have various prepaid and subscription data plans to access the Internet on mobile devices, or with personal
computers using a USB dongle (known as an Air Card in Thailand). However, the speeds vary considerably due to the different network technologies involved.
Most companies sell Air Cards with combined GPRS, EDGE and 3G support (the common mobile data technologies in use today) and usually include WiFi access. These networks are not available all over Thailand and speeds can vary between tens of Kbps (GPRS), up to around 7 Mbps or more with 3G which is by far the fastest. In practice, the actual speeds are lower than advertised especially when more users are connected in the same cell. Monthly costs are typically from a few hundred to several thousand baht, and may be charged either on a time basis or based on how much data is used. Note that 3G is officially still in the trial phase because the Thai authorities have not yet formally issued commercial licenses, though a few companies have already rolled out their 3G infrastructure and the rest will follow in due course.
In Hua Hin, the mobile networks support the different access methods as below. AIS also have their own local WiFi network (in conjunction with 3BB) that covers large areas of town, whereas DTAC and True Move do not. However, their Air Cards can be used with any other WiFi hotspots that you may come across, such as at an Internet shop or hotel.
|GPRS / EDGE||EDGE||WiFi|
Address: Soi 43, Petchakasem Road
Telephone: +66 (0)32 531 399
Address: 60/6 Petchakasem Road (at the lower end of the night market)
Broadband Internet Service Providers (ISP’s)
There are several broadband ISP’s in Hua Hin that provide high speed Internet over a fixed line or cable. Prices and speeds are constantly changing, so it’s advisable to check their websites or visit the local branches in Hua Hin to obtain the most up to date information. As well as a monthly subscription, there are usually various registration and installation charges, but they are often waived in special offers. When a twelve month contract is cancelled prematurely, additional fees and charges usually apply, and any equipment given to the customer (such as routers) must be returned in good condition.
How to Choose an ISP
Choosing an ISP in Hua Hin is not quite as straightforward as it first seems, as there are a few things to consider in addition to the speed that you might need.
Some of the important criteria are:
1. How do you mainly expect to use the Internet (email, surfing the web, watching videos)?
2. How do you want to connect to the Internet (telephone line, cable, mobile, WiFi)?
3. Which ISP companies provide access in your area of town, and at what speeds?
4. What speed and quality do you think you will need?
5. Do you need a new telephone line or cable to be installed?
6. How many computers and other devices (mobile, tablet PC) do you want to connect?
7. Do you need a fixed IP address or dynamic (most customers only need dynamic)?
8. Does the ISP throttle your bandwidth at peak times or impose a data limit?
9. How long do you want the Internet for (weeks, months, or permanently)?
10.What is the local reputation of each ISP and how reliable are they?
3BB currently offers broadband speeds of between 6 and 20 Mbps, which is more than enough for most home users. As well as the standard packages, there is also a premium package with a lower contention ratio, which should provide a more reliable and steady connection. There is also a wireless package to enable WiFi access even without a phone line. Additional static IP address are available for an extra charge. For businesses, there are various leased line options but these are more costly than ADSL. 3BB also has some attractive services such as Internet TV, which can be added to the subscription for a relatively small monthly charge.
Address: 256/5 Petchakasem Road (near the Market Village U-turn)
Open: 08.00-17.00 (Monday to Saturday)
Telephone: +66 (0)32 900 000-1
CAT is supposed to be quite dependable and has basic and premium services that have higher speeds and better quality of service. Most other ISP’s use CAT in one way or another as it’s one of the main national and international Internet gateways in Thailand.
Address: 21 Damnoen Kasam Road (next door to the Post Office)
Telephone: +66 (0)32 511 350
TOT currently provides fixed line Internet all over Hua Hin, but surprisingly only seems to offer up to 4 Mbps, which is quite low compared to the others. According to local reports however, their performance in the past has not been exemplary, with a few concerns voiced on local forums over their speed and reliability.
Address: 28/1 Damnoen Kasam Road (between Hua Hin Municipality and the railway station)
Telephone: +66 (0)32 511 173
True provides broadband in two distinct flavours, the first is ADSL over a phone line and the second by cable. Their ADSL speeds range from 7 to 50 Mbps depending on your service area, and by cable it’s between 7 and 100 Mbps. As you can see, with cable it’s possible to achieve a much higher connection rate. Unfortunately, coverage is somewhat limited in Hua Hin and is only available between Soi 58 and Soi 88.
Address: 60/6 Petchakasem Road (at the lower end of the night market)
Where to Pay Your Bill
Most ISP’s allow you pay in various ways such as on their website, at a bank, the 7-Eleven, the Post Office, or at their local branch. Bills are normally sent by post once a month, and you have a fixed time limit in which to pay otherwise your connection may be temporarily disabled. With mobile and WiFi pay-as-you-go options, it’s easy to buy a topup card and add more credit when needed.
Censorship and Restrictions
In Thailand, websites are frequently censored by the ISP’s on request of the government, but apparently this does not yet apply to email or other messaging services such as Twitter and Facebook. However, this is expected to change sometime during 2012. By 2010 nearly 75,000 websites were on the list blocked by the government, mainly consisting of pornographic material, gambling sites and cases of lesè majesté, or in other words criticism of the Thai Royal Family. Trying to visit blocked sites usually results in your browser being automatically redirected to the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) website.
VPN Access and Proxies
For expats living in Thailand, it can be quite frustrating that some websites are blocked, and content that would normally be available in your home country is restricted here. Another example are Internet TV channels or sporting events that are blocked in Thailand due to the content rights being available only in certain regions.
To get around these restrictions, it’s possible to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that essentially creates a private and encrypted link to the service provider, and lets you access content that is normally restricted in the country you are in. Such services start at only a few dollars a month and require installation of additional software on your computer.
Similar capabilities are provided by various proxy services, designed to let users watch TV programs and other content that may be blocked outside of the originating country. A search online will yield hundreds of results that describe how you can use such proxies.