In the good old days there were internet cafes where people spent an hour or so sending and receiving emails. Once that task was out of the way the average tourist was free of the net and could enjoy a swim in the ocean or a good book. Wifi and 3G networks have changed all that.
Those internet cafes that haven’t started offering other services such as ticketing must be experiencing very lean times. People simply don’t like to use public computers anymore. Instead they bring their own computers with them. These computers are either laptops, tablets, iPads or smartphones.
While several hotels and guest houses as well as bars and cafes offer free wifi in rooms and public areas, it is often the case that people prefer to have access to the internet anywhere and at anytime.
It has reached the stage where travellers and long term residents look to their smart phone as their portal to the internet. It is a simple matter to use a Smartphone as a modem in order to access the web.
Koh Phangan is an island that doesn’t have its own undersea cable to the mainland for the internet. At the moment it piggy backs off Koh Samui’s connection. This affects the speed of the cable internet on Koh Phangan.
At the moment the only 3G network with coverage all over Koh Phangan is DTAC. This is a great way to get cheap internet on the island. You can buy pre-paid plans that range from 49 Thai Baht to 890 Thai Baht a month. No longer can internet places in Koh Phangan charge 2 to 5 Baht a minute with impunity. The monopoly is being broken.
The situation is due to get better in the summer of 2013. AIS and TOT have announced they will roll out island-wide coverage. At the moment DTAC is far from ideal as the service is over-subscribed.
It seems that in 2013 Koh Phangan will really get connected. It won’t be many years before the whole island has good 4G coverage.
Dongles in Koh Phangan
If you are using a dongle then the situation is a bit more complicated. It seems that each network (DTAC, True, TOT and AIS) requires users to buy their dongle – you cannot change sim cards on the one dongle.