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Finding A Stable Internet Connection in Asia

Poster of Internet Being Fast

Used under creative commons from haddadi

Okay, so I haven’t been to all of the countries in Asia, but I can say that the Internet and connecting is just as unreliable as the UK and Europe. The positive thing is that for the most part you’re able to connect for free; it just seems that the large corporates (like Starbucks and other international coffee houses) don’t like people logging on their connection without paying a fee.

 

Hotels

I’ve always been a believer in hotels offering free wifi to customers staying with them. But, not a lot of hotels do this in the Western world, making it an extra revenue stream and offering a dismal connection. Not so in Asia though. Whilst you will still get the larger chains, such as Tune hotels (which I love) and Hilton etc, a lot of the smaller, independent hotels offer free wifi and it’s actually really good. I’m talking about 20mbps upload and download speeds, which you’ll be hard pushed to find in hotels in the UK; I know, I’ve worked at a few.

 

Coffee Shops

For me, coffee shops (or cafes) offer the best, stable internet connection. Whilst Starbucks, Coffee Bean and others sometimes offer a ‘pay for’ wifi service I’ve found smaller groups offer a free service, and often independent coffee shops are a lot better at providing a free Internet connection. I’m sure, if you’re like me, that you’ve thought it must be annoying to the staff when they see you buy a coffee and fire-up your laptop, but let’s be honest if I’m there working away and having a couple of coffees then there’s bound to be people walking past (or walking in to see if it’s busy) and then wanting to sit in there because I’m there. Trust me, it happens, people like to act like sheep and if there’s someone working and having a coffee then it encourages them to take a look.

 

Restaurants

Similar to coffee shops, some restaurants (although seemingly more popular on mainland Asia) offer free wifi connection when you dine with them. The speed of the connection varies as with other places, but you can usually find that as with restaurants that you’re best to stay clear and away from the larger chains. They seem to have a less than personal touch and are more concerned with the volume of people coming to the restaurant to eat.

The good thing with smaller, family-run type restaurants is that you will usually be one of only a handful of people using the Internet connection, which means you should see some good speeds of download and upload.

 

Checking the Internet Connection

internet speed testSometimes I’m never completely sure over whether an Internet connection is quick or not. So, I tend to take what people say with a pinch of salt. It doesn’t matter whether these ‘others’ are staff/ managers/ owners of the place where I’m hooking up to the online world or other customers either where I am or I’ve read online reviews and what they’ve said is “really great, fast internet”. Why? Because everyone’s opinion of ‘fast’ isn’t necessarily even, they could be connected to the internet through their iPhone but using the 3G service from their SIM provider.

So, I tend to check the speed of the internet with a checker: speedtest.net. It’s easy to use and they have an iPhone app so you can quickly check the speed of the wifi where you connect. As an example, a consistent download speed of about 3.5mbps (or higher) will mean you can watch YouTube videos. But, be careful. If the end result is 20mbps but the needle shoots back and forth then there could be either a lot of people on the Internet connection where you are or the connection isn’t that stable – meaning it might go offline quite a lot.

 

Overall

I’m thankful that I’m able to get a wifi connection in different Asian countries, for free. But, that doesn’t mean I’m going to not complain when there is an issue with it or my laptop simply won’t connect to a router (and thus have no Internet). If there was an ability to have a mifi dongle with me that had, on average, a 3-5mbps download speed in cities, and at a reasonable price (about $50-80 per month), then I’d be happy to pay that. (‘Fast Internet Access’ or ‘High-speed broadband’ is subjective; what is fast to one person isn’t to the next – and especially true when people check the speed of wifi using their iPhone and don’t disable their 3G access from the SIM card.)

I’m going to continue to find the different places that offer a fast, stable connection for free and I will continue to use those places wherever I am. Will this bother most hospitality business owners? Probably not, but I’d rather take my business (and, more importantly, spend my money) with a company that wants to attract people to stay, eat or drink with them by offering a stable internet connection for Western travellers.

About Nick

Well hello there! I'm Nick and I write a little here on my blog.
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