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Testing Bangkok's free wi-fi service

ONE SILVER LINING IN THE OTHERWISE CONTROVERSY-RIDDEN 3G AUCTION

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The world has gone digital. The internet has become a life necessity in this age in which people feel the need to access the world wide web - always and everywhere. 

Even though the ongoing controversy surrounding the 3G auction has taken the development of digital technology in Thailand nowhere, there is still one piece of good news _ the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has joined hands with giant mobile phone and internet network service providers to offer the people free access to wireless internet (wi-fi) in several thousand locations across the country.

ICT Minister Anudith Nakornthap said the free wi-fi initiative is aimed at providing all Thais with an opportunity to access to the wireless internet regardless of their earnings, whereabouts or other factors.

"It will help eliminate any inequality in access to information. It will also improve people's quality of life as well as open more doors to more knowledge," said the minister.

The free wi-fi service, the minister added, is currently available in some 50,000 to 60,000 locations, mostly in communities, department stores, restaurants, hotels, academic institutes and other public venues. Registration is required yet it is simple. Basically, all users need to register online with their identification number and email address. A username and password will be sent back to them via the provided email.

Usage conditions and data transfer speed, however, vary according to each individual service provider. Advanced Info Service (AIS) offers wireless internet with a download speed of 10Mbps up to 100Mbps in some areas and allows five-hour usage per month on its network and another five hours per month on the 3BB network, which is AIS' business partner.

State-owned TOT Plc also offers free wireless internet for the public with a maximum download speed of 3Mbps and upload speed of 512bps. The username and password are valid for six months and users can access free wi-fi on the TOT network for no more than two hours per each log-on.

At the same time, True Corp offers 15 hours-per-month free wireless internet access on its network for no more than 30 minutes a day. The network's maximum download speed is 2Mbps.

To check the availability and efficiency of the service, Life recently tested free wireless internet services at several locations around Bangkok.

Location:CentralWorld

Time of test: 1.50pm

Network: AIS

Download/upload speed: 15.69Mbps/0.79Mbps

Opening an 800kb email attachment: 2sec

Fully loading Bangkok Post website: 7sec

Posting an 800kb picture on Facebook: 16sec

Fully loading a 2min 30sec video on YouTube: 7sec

Location:Chulalongkorn University

Time of test: 1.15pm

*No service.

Location:Siam BTS station

Time of test: 12am

Network: 3BB

Download/upload speed: 5.62Mbps/1.29Mbps

Opening an 800kb email attachment: 5sec

Fully loading Bangkok Post website: 10sec

Posting an 800kb picture on Facebook: 17sec

Fully loading a 2min 30sec video on YouTube: 26sec

Location:Lumpini Park

Time of test: 1.30pm

*No service.

Location:Siam Discovery

Time of test: 12.30am

Network: AIS

Download/upload speed: 15.68Mbps/0.67Mbps

Opening an 800kb email attachment: 3sec

Fully loading Bangkok Post website: 3sec

Posting an 800kb picture on Facebook: 17sec

Fully loading a 2min 30sec video on YouTube: 11sec

Location:Siam Square

Time of test: 1pm

*No service.

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