Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wireless Internet in Southeast Asia

I use a wireless modem to stay online where ever I am. This is easier in Southeast Asia, where SIM cards can be purchased easily—generally, you will just need your passport. Other places where security concerns are higher, like India, it can be more difficult to for non-residents to purchase a SIM—but you can always ask a friend to buy it for you. Note that speeds are slow—3G is only coming into most of the area, and high bandwidth demands, like Skype which recommends 64kbps, may not work for you. Plan to have basic e-mail access, and remember where you don't have a cell phone signal you don't have connectivity. Generally, there are two or three steps needed for getting connected.
Option One: Get a wireless modem bundled with a service provider. This is the easiest option—they provide you the modem, the SIM card for the modem, and you pay (generally pre-pay) for access and they provide you with account information. The prices are comparable to those in the West. Some country-specific providers are given below. One of the drawbacks is that the modem may be locked, meaning it will only work with the provider (and therefore can only be used in that country).
Option Two: Get your wireless modem that is not locked—that will work with multiple providers. Then, purchase a SIM either specifically for Internet access or with a company that provides pre-paid Internet service through their SIMs (those listed below are in this category). Often, you'll need to activate the SIM first using a mobile phone and then put it into your modem to activate your Internet access. This is my suggested solution.
Option Three: Get a wireless modem and a local SIM (one with a provider that supports 3G is best). Second, find a service you can access by dialing into. This can be tricky, and unless you know your way around the locale, we suggestion Option One or Two.
Usually, these SIMS/prepaid cards can be purchased directly from mobile phone kiosks, 7-11's, or others. The Web sites here give you some basic information and can be sources of where to locate vendors locally.  


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