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Couple weeks ago when I was planning my trip to Thailand, I searched all over the internet and wondered if I was going to be able to get 3G data working (since Thailand doesn’t have 4G LTE yet) while I stayed for couple weeks.
Well, I’ve been here in Thailand for couple weeks now and I can tell you which network has the best 3G/HSPA+ data.
First, Thailand offers pre-paid SIM cards for those worried about getting your work done on the go. Now, there’s two types of pre-paid SIM cards most Thailand carriers offer, one with just Edge/Wifi service, the other with 3G/Wifi service.
If you land at a Thai airport, you might see some pre-paid SIM cards you can sign up for. I found that most of these are the Edge/Wifi service, which you don’t want since Edge is so damn old technology and it’s not gonna get you high on Android.
Instead, if you go to 7-Eleven stores or to the phone shops in malls/supermarkets, they sell 3G SIM cards, which is what you want so you can surf at decent 3G/HSPA+ speeds.
The two best networks in my mind are True Move’s 3G+ and AIS 3G SIM cards. Both of these offer different bandwidth. Depending on how much bandwidth you want, you can expect to pay anywhere between 100-1000 baht. (30 Baht = $1 USD)
E.g. You can get 3GB unlimited service (which is the best they offer and what I got) for around 900 baht on both True Move and AIS. Basically you get up to 3GB of 3G/HSPA+ data and they will throttle you down to Edge. If you need more data, you can pay around 50 baht per day to get near 30GB of data for one day.
Now, I did test both of these networks and I find that True Move’s 3G+ service was much more reliable and faster on average while AIS kept dropping me to Edge very often. True Move is much bigger company they say so it is probably the best network to go with.
Of course with a SIM card, you will also get a Thailand phone number and price on voice calls will be deducted from your account. Usually these data plans come with some sort of free voice minutes so I wouldn’t worry too much about that.
Overall, I did get fair amount of good download speeds near 2-5Mbps near big cities in Thailand while it dropped off to anywhere between 200Kbps to 2 Mbps in rural areas.
You can expect to get pretty good 3G/HSPA+ signals anywhere big cities but once you start driving off to rural areas, you may drop to Edge often, especially on AIS. True Move faired much better, I did not drop to Edge service too often.
For those of you wondering how you will get your smartphone working in Thailand, I am here to assure you that you will be just fine, go with True Move’s 3G+ Prepaid SIM cards, my final recommendation and you can’t go wrong.
I will keep testing further while my stay here in Thailand as I will be traveling more but in the meanwhile, you should be happy that 3G/HSPA+ data is easily affordable, you can get pretty much unlimited data for nearly $30 plus enough free voice minutes during your stay.
UPDATE: Mostly in Bangkok, I found that both True Move and AIS have some great download speeds near 3-7Mbps for both networks. If you are going to be in Bangkok city mostly during your trip, you should be fine with both networks. I actually saw better AIS HSPA+ coverage all over Bangkok. Again, if you need 3G data at all times, my recommendation is to get both True Move and AIS.
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