According to Akamai’s Q3 2015 rankings, Thailand has an average Internet connection speed of 8.2 Mbps and an average peak connection speed of 58.3 Mbps.
According to a 2015 estimate, Taiwan has a population of approximately 68 million. Of these, 40% were connected to the Internet in the same year, thus placing Thailand among the countries with the lowest number of Internet users in the world.
The Internet in Thailand is primarily defined by the existence of broadband and dial-up connections. While broadband infrastructure is rapidly developing and expanding, the majority of Internet users in Thailand still rely on dial-up access, especially in the countryside, where people are either uneducated to use the Internet or simply uninterested in using it due to conservative values.
Major Internet Service Providers
The market is divided between a handful of ISPs. Major names include: CAT Telecom, Pacific Internet, Jasmin Internet, Anet, Samart Connect, etc. Each of these companies specializes in providing both dial-up and broadband access. Broadband access is primarily divided into ADSL, Cable and Fiber optic, but ADSL is the predominant type of connection.
Dial-up access in Thailand
Light Internet users can opt for dial-up access to the Internet in Thailand. Due to its local popularity, dial-up packages can be bought at most mobile phone shops or any other convenience stores, such as 7-11. Customers are given a dial-up number and a security PIN. By calling the number, they are given instant access to the Internet and are billed on their normal telephone bill.
Broadband access in Thailand
If dial-up access is popular in the countryside, broadband access quickly overtakes it in big cities. Most ISPs provide ADSL access to the Internet, while some companies offer cable and G.shdsl access in select areas. According to unctad.org, Internet speeds for these connections range from 2 Mbps to 50 Mbps. In more developed cities such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Pattaya, speeds go up to 1 Gbps, but prices are, as expected, proportional to the quality you receive. According to latest stats published by Numbeo.com, prices for a basic 10 Mbps ADSL subscription to the Internet start at approximately $20 per month, more or less, depending on the provider you opt for.
Below you can find some of the most important characteristics of the Internet in Thailand:
1. Industry belongs to the private sector
The market in Thailand is divided between a handful of ISPs. Major names include: CAT Telecom, Pacific Internet, Jasmin Internet, Anet, Samart Connect, etc. Prices are usually the same at all these companies, but all of them offer limited Internet services, on the one hand, due to the lack of proper infrastructure, and on the other hand, the repressive censorship system that we covered below.
2. Internet cafes are very popular locally
Although the Internet infrastructure is constantly improved, especially in the countryside as of late, Internet cafes remain very popular hangout spots, especially among young people, many of whom cannot afford to access the Internet at home due to high costs and it being “taboo” among overly-protective parents. Coupled with the fact that the Internet is still unknown to many people (proved by the low 39% penetration rate), and that the censorship is among the strictest in the world, Internet cafes are very likely to stay afloat for the time being.
3. Strict censorship. Stern copyright law
According to a report published by Freedom House in 2011, Thailand’s internet freedom status is rated “Not Free”. Additional NGOs such as Privacy International assert that the Thai military government conducts close and constant surveillance on the Internet in order to “curb dissent”, and covertly recruits entire networks of citizens who are encouraged to report people who post online content considered “harmful” to government policies. These networks are known locally as “Cyber Scouts”. Due to the effectiveness of this repressive censorship system, specialists estimate that around 80,000 websites are blocked, including popular websites such as YouTube; people often resort to VPNs or proxies to access these websites, but at a very high risk, since the military junta also monitors any tools that could be used to breach the system.