There’s a communication revolution going on in Thailand and the kingpin was ex (coup-deposed) Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra – who is a communications billionaire. Mobile phones have widely penetrated the urban population, however, the landline network is sub-standard and though it works mostly, internet services aren’t quite as cutting edge as they are in Europe or North America. Broadband is available in all urban centres, and much of the outlying suburbs within reasonable proximity to the key phone network points, but it’s quality is variable and poor value for money.
There are internet cafés everywhere and it’s easy and practical to even pick up your own SIM card (and phone) while here. If you have your own computer and a phone line in your apartment, you can be online minutes after picking up a pre-paid ISP card from convenience or computer stores, or they may offer WiFi.
Mobile phones in Thailand
Thailand has an obsession with mobile phones, and to almost all urban Thai people, their phone is an important status symbol and essential accessory. Many foreigners come here to escape and opt not to carry a phone. But getting one is easy, they are cheap and pre-paid cards are widely available, meaning you can get connected in less than an hour of shopping.
Even short-term visitors find it practical to buy a SIM card and slip it into their existing phone, making it convenient for making bookings and enquiries while travelling in Thailand. A mobile phone is also useful for contacting other travellers and SMSing home to let your mum know you’re still alive. For 500 Baht you can get the card for free and airtime equal to the value of your purchase.
Phones are found everywhere and a compact, reliable phone can be had for as little as 1,000 Baht, even end of line brands such as Nokia, Siemens and Motorola are well priced. Since they are manufactured in Asia, even the most sophisticated colourful interface, onboard camera models with Bluetooth, and iPhones are widely available at numerous shops all over the city. There is also a thriving second-hand phone market. Calls cost 1-5 Baht a minute, depending on your plan.