Prevalent and Fast Wi-Fi in Thailand Drives Improvements in Internet Speeds
Thailand has witnessed significant improvement in fixed broadband internet speeds over the past couple of years, as fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) continues to grow strongly in major metropolitan areas. And then the pandemic hit. With COVID-19, companies across the globe adapted to working from home, and people began spending more time online with the implementation of lockdowns. This led to a surge in overall internet traffic for internet service providers (ISPs), especially on fixed networks. We used data from Speedtest Intelligence® to analyze the effect of this in Thailand during Q1-Q4 2020 to determine if the increase in traffic slowed internet speeds and degraded end-user experience. We also looked closely at Wi-Fi in Thailand to see how increased usage affected speeds.
Thailand jumps in international rankings
Data from the Speedtest Global Index™ during 2020 shows Thailand managed the challenges of increased traffic comparatively well, climbing from a ninth-place position for mean fixed broadband speed in January 2020 to third place in December 2020. Singapore and Hong Kong held on to the first- and second-place, respectively, throughout the year.
Thailand second fastest ASEAN country for fixed broadband
ASEAN is one of the fastest growing internet markets in the world, and data from Speedtest Intelligence shows the number of fixed broadband users in ASEAN countries grew by 40.7% year-over-year, from 22.97 million unique users in 2019 to 32.31 million users in 2020. Impressively, speed has kept up with demand in Thailand where the mean download speed over fixed broadband during 2020 was 166.81 Mbps, ranking the country second-fastest among ASEAN member states. Singapore was first with a mean download speed of 214.39 Mbps over fixed broadband during the same period. Other ASEAN countries lag far behind Singapore and Thailand for fixed broadband internet speeds, with Indonesia ranking last on the list with an average download speed of 22.07 Mbps during 2020. We have omitted Myanmar from this analysis due to the current political situation.
Wi-Fi usage increased during the pandemic
The percentage of time people spend on Wi-Fi is one indicator of the amount of time people spend at home and Speedtest Intelligence shows an increase in Wi-Fi usage during the pandemic. In Thailand, Android mobile phone users spent 7.4% more time on Wi-Fi in December 2020 when compared with January 2020. This effect was not limited to Thailand, all ASEAN countries showed an increase in Wi-Fi usage since the onset of COVID restrictions in March 2020.
3BB showed the fastest fixed broadband over Wi-Fi on modern Android devices
Fixed broadband in Thailand is interesting in that most consumers receive a modem and router from their provider, so it’s easier to compare Wi-Fi speeds across providers than it would be in countries where consumers often purchase their own equipment. To make the comparison between providers even more fair, we removed samples taken over very old devices from the Speedtest data and focused on the 5 GHz frequency band (as Wi-Fi speeds can vary widely on different frequency bands). More than 60% of Speedtest results over Wi-Fi in Thailand were taken on 5 GHz. During 2020, 3BB was the ISP with the fastest Wi-Fi, showing a mean download speed of 272.93 Mbps. AIS stood second, and True Online third with mean download speeds of 248.39 Mbps and 242.05 Mbps, respectively. TOT and CAT Telecom lagged with mean Wi-Fi download speeds of 197.66 Mbps and 115.67 Mbps, respectively, during 2020.
Wi-Fi speeds are improving throughout Thailand’s provinces
A comparison of Speedtest Intelligence data from Q1 2020 to that from Q4 2020 showed mean Wi-Fi speeds on modern Android devices have improved throughout the country.
Speedtest Intelligence data from Q4 2020 showed Phrae province was the fastest of Thailand’s 77 provinces, boasting an average download speed of 462.14 Mbps in Q4 2020. Sing Buri and Sa Kaeo provinces were second and third fastest at 367.14 Mbps and 304.33 Mbps, respectively. Mean download speeds in the other provinces vary widely in the range of 180-300 Mbps. Satun and Uthai Thani provinces displayed some of the slowest speeds in the country with mean download speeds of 180.77 Mbps and 180.37 Mbps, respectively.
Mean Wi-Fi Speeds on 5 GHz Using Modern Android Devices in 10 Fastest Thai Provinces and Bangkok
Speedtest Intelligence® | 2020
|Province||Q4 Download Speed (Mbps)||Q1 Download Speed (Mbps)||% Change|
Regulatory changes should increase investment in Thailand’s fixed broadband
The Thai government has recently made some changes to improve its regulatory framework which should attract more investment in fixed broadband, which in turn will facilitate the transition from DSL and cable to fiber.
In addition, fixed-line operators in Thailand have been focusing on developing FTTH networks in urban areas. ISPs now offer gigabit broadband plans (capable of speeds greater than or equal to 1 Gbps) as part of their primary packages. Gigabit broadband connections are now available in major cities like Bangkok, Phuket, and Chiang Mai.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) also announced 10 GB free mobile broadband data for all the subscribers to facilitate work from home measures urged by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic. NBTC issued a guideline to all fixed broadband ISPs to upgrade the speed of home internet to at least 100 Mbps for all clients completely free of charge.
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