In addition to WiFi offered by your hotel, you can also access the Internet over the Mobile Phone Network, provided you have an Aircard or a smartphone.

Aircards

Many of the current smart mobile phones can access email, and have web browsing capabilities. If need access to full PC capabilities on a regular basis but cannot always be near a wired (Local Area Network) or Wi-Fi connection, you can connect to the internet through the mobile phone network, using an Aircard.

Mobile Broadband Data Card for Laptop

An Aircard gives you the capability of connecting your mobile device to the internet, anywhere at any time. You will need an Aircard with a SIM chip and air time. If you plan this before you come to Thailand, you can get an Aircard for a bargain price.

An Aircard connects to your laptop or PDA using an available USB port, PCMCIA card slot or ExpressCard slot.

There are several aircard suppliers, like Merlin, Sierra, Option GT, and Lenovo. If you want an easy installation and good support, I suggest you look for a Sierra Aircard. These Aircards are available on eBay for bargain prices.

I have been using these for the last 5 years and find them easy to install and there is great support on the Sierra website, even for discontinued models. I often buy used Aircards, to keep an inventory, for colleagues or friends who need a backup device for connecting to the internet. For example I recently bought two Sierra 860 cards, one for $0.99 the other for $2.50! I also bought a Sierra 881U for $35.00 on eBay. If you have an older laptop with the original PCMCIA slot you can use older Aircards like the Sierra 860. These give good download speeds, and are generally limited only by the performance of the network here in Thailand. The Sierra 881U is designed for download speeds of up to 7 Mbps. We will not see these speeds in Thailand for several years yet!

Aircard Interface Types

Until about 2007 the standard interface for plug in modules on a laptop or PDA was the PCMCIA interface slot. You’ve probably noticed it on your laptop, but maybe never used it. It’s useful for adding a device that’s not built in to your laptop.

More recently, the PCMCIA slot on laptops was replaced with the PCI Express 34 slot. Unfortunately, this interface standard has not been very popular and there are few cards available for it. If you have a newer laptop, that does not have the older PCMCIA slot, then look for an aircard with a USB connection. The USB models like the Sierra 875U or 881U can be used on any current laptop or desktop.

All of these cards are easy to install and connect to your network. The speeds in Thailand are not uniformly fast at this stage, even though a new undersea cable has recently been brought on-stream to provide increased bandwidth.

The latest Aircards are designed for speeds of up to 7 Mbps, but in Pattaya we are not even reaching speeds of 0.5 Mbps on mobile networks. Currently, there is a choice of GPRS or EDGE networks. For most applications, the GPRS download speed of about 115 kps provides reasonable performance. If you are planning to download large files, you will need to be patient!

Visit Tukcom in Pattaya

You can buy the SIM data card at Tukcom on Pattaya Tai (South Pattaya Road), at the AIS Telewiz store on the second floor. Prices start at around Bt 200. This is a bargain, it’s even cheaper than the voice SIM card.

The SIM data card comes with about 20 hours of connect time. Prepaid airtime is cheap in Thailand so go visit Tukcom, and speak to the friendly girls at AIS who will set you up with a SIM card and a prepaid contract. They sometimes ask for id, when buying a SIM card. So remember to take along your passport, in case they ask.