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Poor Technology and Low Internet Bandwidth Will Damage Thailand’s Economic Growth

Internet sign in Thailand, copyright seraboten, Creative Commons

Thailand’s economic growth affected by poor internet access

If you come to Thailand for any length of time, don’t count on being able to get consistent internet access. Thailand seriously has some of the worst internet connection problems of any country I’ve ever been to, and most Thai internet companies don’t seem to be able to fix the problem.

This alone is going to damage Thailand’s economic growth as just about every aspect of business life requires a stable internet service.

Right now, I sit at my computer in my apartment with no internet access. This is the second time this week I have not been able to get online. When I am able to get on the internet, I can get Thai websites (mostly written in Thai, so a complete waste of time for me), but the international websites like Yahoo and CNN are all down.

When I call my service provider I get the usual message “international internet link down”.

As this happens two or three times a month, you’d think by now the Thai authorities could have figured out why. But no. It’s Thailand and the “mai bpen rai” attitude (mai bpen rai meaning “never mind, don’t worry”) means that nothing ever really changes or improves.

I currently work for a branch of a large multi-national company in Bangkok. They have just joined the global network of their company and are currently being assessed by the head office. Several employees have told me that their global office in Hong Kong has said the Thailand office is at the bottom of the pile of all of their worldwide offices when it comes to technology (and specifically the internet). Wow, you don’t say!

When I go to work at this large multi-national company, it’s a good day if I have internet access and the printer is working correctly. Most days, my internet access is sporadic, and I have a printer problem at least once during the day.

When I complain, the IT guy will show up, it’s fixed for a couple of days, then back to square one. The Thai employees don’t even complain (that’s not the Thailand way). Instead, they say mai bpen rai — “never mind” — and things continue to stay the same. This is an enormous reason why Thailand is falling further behind most other countries in South East Asia in technology and in business and, of course in Thailand’s economic growth.

Other countries DO mind, and they do everything they can to solve their problems. Thailand just bops along as normal – not worrying too much if their internet connection works or not.

The main problem with Thailand is the country runs on “style over substance”, meaning most things look beautiful but they don’t work well. So, when you come to Thailand, you’ll see all the internet cafes everywhere, top notch cameras and videos, brand new mobile phones with technology not yet available in the US, etc. Problem is, it looks great, but a lot of it doesn’t work – style over substance, remember.

As a Westerner, who is used to working at places where the equipment and everything else always works, it’s one of the most frustrating things about living in Thailand. In six years, it hasn’t gotten any better and I doubt it will.

So, if you’re planning on coming to Thailand to do business, think about this. If you like nice people and a relaxed environment, then Thailand is the place for you. Thais are the nicest people in the world and most definitely the most relaxed. If, however, you are wanting to be in a country where you have a good shot at business success, have consistent internet access, technology that works and therefore can compete globally then Thailand may not be for you.

Instead, try Hong Kong, Singapore, even Vietnam or Malaysia. In these countries, the “mai bpen rai”attitude doesn’t exist, so things do actually work.

As for me, I’m going back to watching TV – no internet again today, so it’s not like I can post this article online now is it?

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