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The new iPad & 3G in Thailand – what does it mean for you?

Posted by RealDaffyDuck on March 16, 2012

Apple’s new iPad is soon going to show up at MBK’s various 4th floor sellers, and fine greymarket stores everywhere else.

There’s just one problem with it,. and it’s nothing Apple can do anything about, but fortunately there’s a solution.

What’s the problem?

It’s LTE — or rather, the notable lack of any *global* LTE. Heck, even in the US there are separate models for Verizon or AT&T, while they both use the 700MHz band for LTE, one uses the upper section of that band, and one uses the lower section. Apple supports 2100MHz and 700MHz in their two models.

The current state of LTE chipsets does not yet provide a true global multi-band model, particularly since half the countries in the world that have committed to deploying LTE don’t know what frequencies they will be using (Thailand’s still up in the air), and the rest use the 800, 1800 or 2600 MHz bands.

In other words, the global LTE situation is a major mess, so Apple’s decisions come as no surprise – the new iPad, at this point in time, is essentially North America only. Even models available in other markets have a disclaimer stating that 4G LTE will only work on AT&T’s bands – or, for example in Hong Kong, you can’t even purchase the 4G model, they are only selling the WiFi model.

The good news comes in the form of 3G compatibility – which the new iPad provides in a global spanning manner (it should work pretty much anywhere, and is unlocked) and offering HSPA+, which is able to outperform the current LTE offerings in many ways.

As long as you have a carrier that supports HSPA+, you can enjoy speeds exceeding the prior iPad’s 2 7.2MBps, potentially reaching speeds as high as 42MBps.

Now, as for Thailand – who knows when the new iPad will arrive in Thailand, and while it will work with the regular 3G service offered by TRUE, that one is restricted to the aforementioned 7.2MBps.

If you want HSPA+ support, you *can* get it – via TRUEmove H.

Truemove launched a new network called Truemove H. It’s main advantage is data speeds of up to 42 Mbps, which they are calling 3G+ as it can’t officially be called 4G. The requirement for 4G is 100 Mbps or higher. (DTAC Happy and 12Call both offer speeds up to 42Mbps.)

The big downside of this service is that you must get a new SIM or apply to port your number.

This isn’t a big problem for iPad service, which doesn’t require a voice plan, just data. It is something to consider if you have an iPhone 4S and you wanted the faster speeds HSPA+ provides.

Why these hassles?? Because the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) allocate phone numbers to the various networks. Since the Truemove H network belongs to CAT, and True /Real Move is the builder and operator, Truemove H /CAT/ Real Move numbers are separate allocations from Truemove.

This also means that the My 3G service from CAT and Truemove H are the same service on the same 850 MHz UMTS/WCDMA network. You need to have a 3G 850 MHz compatible mobile device to use the service – like the iPhone 4S, iPad 2 or iPad 3 (note: the iPhone 4 does not support HSPA+).

Truemove H key facts:
-Network: 850 MHz UMTS/WCDMA
-3G format: HSPA+ (High Speed Packet Access) with peak speed of 42 Mbps
-Network coverage: Bangkok and 16 provinces
– CAT ( My 3G ) is wholesaling 3G capacity to Real Move, which is a True subsidiary. Real Move is providing its service under the TrueMove H brand.

Current rates for 3G+ / TRUEmove H are reasonable and in line with previous rates:

649 Baht gets you 3GB of 3G+
759 Baht gets you unlimited 3G+ for up to 3GB of traffic, after which it is throttled to 384KBps
899 Baht gets you unlimited 3G+ for up to 5GB of traffic, after which it is throttled to 384KBps
1699 Baht gets you unlimited 3G+ for up to 10GB of traffic, after which it is throttled to 384KBps

The last one is useful if you plan on using the hotspot feature of the new iPad, to share network access with up to 5 other devices, though otherwise I would probably just use the 899 plan. They all come with unlimited access to TRUE’s WiFi hotspots.

Note: for an iPad plan, you *must* configure the SIM either previously in an iPhone (or other phone) or just have the staff at a TRUE store pre-configure the SIM for you, before you insert it. Monthly top-ups can easily be done remotely via your bank account.

(oh, and good news for Kenny – now that T-Mobile is building out their network to support HSPA+, so that they can finally support iPhone, maybe Kenny’s HTC Android phone will finally be able to get him 3G service – after not having had it for 2 years, on a phone that worked neither in Thailand or in the USA).


4 Responses to “The new iPad & 3G in Thailand – what does it mean for you?”

  1. Interesting article. I’m really happy with my Galaxy Tab from Big C Extra!

    • Please also note that Kenny’s lauded HTC Android phone does *not* support 850MHz (and hence does not provide 3G in Thailand, as is obvious of his screen displaying ‘E’ for EDGE) and doesn’t support the oddball 1700MHz 3G frequency of T-Mobile, Kenny’s carrier in the USA.

      Can you say “HaHaHa HeHeHe HoHoHo?”

  2. Alibaba said

    Wait just a sec here. I read on that BigBaby site that the 850 band was only on AT&T in the US and he said you can’t use anything bought in the US in Thailand because the 850 band isn’t used in Thailand. So what gives here? Someone is full of shit and I wanna know who.

    I don’t want to say your article is wrong but I just want to know what’s going on because some people wanna be Self Professed Masters of the Universe so badly that they’ll bullshit and lie about anything.

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