Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Thailand Offline Again!

The past couple of months have seen the entire country unplugged from the internet more times than I care to count.

You can always tell it's a national problem when you phone the call centre and end up being on hold for 10 minutes or so. I don't know if this is to stop being hassled or because there really are a lot of people reporting the problem. Suggestions of using IVR updates to handle some of the calls "If you are phoning about internet connection difficulty, there is a problem and we are working on it. Please check back for updates" would be a good option, however it falls on deaf ears.

What I'm not sure of is the cause of the problem.

  • Lack of infrastructure investment
  • More people going online
  • Fragility of links out of Thailand
There certainly is a lack of investment in infrastructure. One calculation suggests that if everybody that could go online went online at the same time each user would get 1.2Kb of bandwidth. As an example to get the copper wire to allow for phone and ADSL services to my home the supplier had to run a cable from a drop point 14KM away as all other drop points were full and they had no plans to add any more. The incumbent, TOT, took more than one year to add a new drop point into the housing complex we live in. This is in Bangkok and within sight of their headquarters.

There certainly is an upward trend of online users. Combine this with an already low investment rate and you stress the system too much.

In the region in the last year there has been other countries that have gone offline. Sri Lanka was out after a ship broke the cable between the island and India. Indonesia was knocked out when an undersea earthquake displaced the fibre that connects it to Singapore.

Is this the internet in general creaking under the strain of the volume of IP traffic generated by VoIP, browsing, downloads, P2P traffic and file transfers of email as companies become more global and more virtual.

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