ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Is Broadband Becoming the New Dial-Up?

A few days ago a big shipment of broadband modems has finally arrived at the Bhutan Telecom offices. Many people who have been waiting patiently for the device are now rushing to upgrade their home Internet connection. Indeed, at Nu. 399/month, a 256kbps broadband connection is an attractive alternative to dial-up. In addition, more folks are connecting to the Internet using their cellphones and mobile modems, now that B-Mobile have reduced their 3G tariffs.

However, as more and more home users are getting online, the network is becoming congested, and access to international websites is becoming sluggish. Typical DSL over-subscription ratios (a.k.a. contention ratios) are 1:5 to 1:25, but it seems that BT has far exceeded these values, with all the apparent side effects. In addition to network hiccups, network disconnects are becoming frequent. The BT DNS servers sometimes fail under an ever-increasing load. With a total international capacity of less than 100Mbit/s, we won't be surprised if the network - which until recently has been under-utilized - will soon become over-utilized. With all the talk about IT parks etc, capacity has to be increased soon, or broadband will become the bottleneck on the way to the future information society.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Online Tuition-Free University

What a great initiative: The U.N. has announced the launch of the world's first tuition-free, online university. The university was founded by Shai Reshef, an Israeli entrepreneur. Currently two degrees are available, one in computer science and the other in business administration. There are some minimal fees (e.g., enrollment fees are $10 to $50, depending on the country of origin), but tuition is free. For more information, check the website of UoPeople. To read the official announcement, click here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bhutan Post SMS Service?

While using the Bhutan Post website to calculate international postage (very useful - here's the link to the online application), I stumbled upon the Bhutan GPO SMS Service page. It has a place to enter a mobile phone number and a short text message, and also a "Send" button. I wonder if this application is supposed to send an SMS to a subscriber in Bhutan? I tried it, but it hangs. If you have more information about this application, please post.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

BNB's SMS banking down?

I've been trying to use Bhutan National Bank's SMS banking in the last few days, in order to get my balance. This is done by sending an SMS to 6070 with the adequate text code. I've tried multiple times, but have not been able to receive an SMS back with the information. However, I am still receiving SMS messages from BNB whenever a transaction above Nu. 5000 is taking place. Hence, it appears that something is wrong with their ability to receive incoming SMS messages. If anyone has information or other experience, please post.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

3G Cheaper than DSL

B-Mobile has recently slashed down the tariff of mobile Internet access (see announcement here). It has also added an "unlimited data" postpaid package for Nu 999/month. This is a terrific deal, and I won't be surprised if this is the cheapest unlimited 3G package in the world.

Remember that the Bhutan Telecom broadband plans (DSL) do not include "unlimited data" plans. So if you're using fixed-line broadband and consuming more than 5GB or so of data per month, it might make sense for you to switch to 3G. This will also add the capability of being able to use the Internet away from your office or home. There are a number of caveats, however: The initial price of the cellular modem is high (around Nu 5000); you will only get 3G-speed in Thimphu (in other Dzongkhags the speed will be slower); and the connection is technically harder to share if you have multiple computers in the office, although it is doable.

BOB's got Internet Banking

Bank of Bhutan's new Internet Banking portal is here. The new system, as well as BOB's new SMS banking feature, was recently covered by Kuensel.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Final Workshop: Decision Making Using Excel

(Posted by Galit)

I will be conducting the workshop "Decision Making Using Excel" for the last time next week. The dates are set to June 10-12, at Rigsum Institute's new campus (behind Hotel Pedling).

The workshop is intended for decision makers in government, corporate, and private organizations who have at least basic knowledge of Excel. For more information see To register please

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mobile Internet across Bhutan

Returning from a trip to the East, I'd like to share great experience using Bhutan Telecom's mobile Internet infrastructure. Using the 3G modem purchased at BT, I was able to connect to the internet from every place where there was BT mobile network access. Trongsa, Bumthang, Mongar, Trashigang, and even in the guesthouse at Rangjung, north of Trashigang. In Thimphu the speed is fastest (3G technology), whereas outside of Thimphu it is slower (GPRS/EDGE technology). The latter enables reading email and surfing the web, but a bit too slow for Skype phone calls.

To get mobile Internet, you must purchase a modem (around Nu. 5000, available in 12 installments), and then get the data plan (starting at Nu. 149/month with the new rates). For further details see the Bhutan Telecom webpage. Note, however, that the new rates are not yet updated on that page and can be found here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

SMS from Royal Insurance Corporation

In today's print version of Kuensel, RICBL announces that they will be sending SMS messages to their customers to inform them of different notices (such as due date notice, reminder of an upcoming renewal date, and acknowledgment of policy). They encourage the customers to make sure their mobile phones linked to their Insurance accounts are correct.

Unfortunately, this ad, like all ads in the print version of Kuensel, do not appear on Kuensel Online (the online ads are separate). I searched the RICBL website for this news item and the details, and finally discovered it in the General Notice area (a button in the middle left column). The information is a bit hard to read, as the text was designed to blink frequently...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

BOB catching up

Yesterday's Kuensel had an article about Bank of Bhutan (BoB) moving ahead with more electronic banking. In particular, the CEO Kinga Tshering announced that:
  • Account holders will be able to withdraw cash not only from their own branch, but also from the branches in Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Wangduephodrang
  • "After May 10, customers will be issued ATM cards within two days after they put in an application."
  • "SMS and internet banking too will soon be introduced."

Special Talk: "Who’s Spying on My Computer: Internet Security in Bhutan"

Rigsum IT & M Announces a Special Talk:

Who’s Spying on My Computer: Internet Security in Bhutan

The increasing Internet usage in Bhutan presents many opportunities but also entails major cyber threats. This talk is an overview of the computer security challenges facing government, corporate, and private organizations in Bhutan.

Speaker: Boaz Shmueli, President and Founder,, USA
Date: Friday, 8th may, 2009, at 4:00pm
Venue: BCCI Hall, Thimphu

This talk is open to the general public. Seats are limited. Interested parties are kindly requested to contact the Rigsum Institute at 321466 or email

Note: To download the presentation slides, you will need to login. To open the presentation, you will need a password. The password was given to the talk participants.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Email Scams

(Posted by Galit)

Email makes us more connected to the outside world, but also more vulnerable to scams. By scams, I do not mean "junk mail", where you are solicited to buy something. By scams I mean emails that are trying to harm you by stealing your password, money, etc. There are a few popular types of scams out there, which email users should be aware of:
  • Nigerian scams: these are emails that arrive from someone in a far away country (usually in Africa or Asia), explaining that they have a large sum of money, but that in order to get access to that money they need your partnership in some way. The email will likely be addressed to you directly (e.g., "Dear Mr. Tashi"). Do not believe these claims, do not send money, and do not respond to such emails.

    Dear friend,
    I am writing you in respect of a certain Mr. Chen Huang, who died with his wife and their only daughter in the Taiwanese plane crash of February 16,1998. Please view this link, if you will: [URL REMOVED]. The late Mr.Chen Huang was Head Department of Foreign Exchange, Central Bank of Taiwan. My name is Mr. Micheal Hurd, a British citizen by birth, with African descent. I am the Treasury Manager of one of the Commercial Banks here in UK. Please read the rest of my story and the reason for my writing you this mail The late Mr. Chen Huang was very rich by all standards and he has an account with this bank here in UK, where I work, which he opened way back in 1995. By the time he died in 1998, he had amasses very substantial amount of money in this account. Because he died with the wife and only daughter, this account has remained dormant to date. His only daughter who was his next-of-kin in the account, died with him in the crash. And because of this, this account has remained locked. Therefore, my purpose of writing you this letter, in your position and capacity as a non-resident, and non-citizen of Britain, is to request for your cooperation and collaboration with me, for you and I to demand for and indeed claim the deceased's money in this his bank account with my bank to ourselves, instead of allowing the British authority to do same... Essentially, I need you to organize the reception and custody of the money in any bank account, in any country outside UK, which may, or may not be your home country, or country of your normal domicile, until we share the money in the end. My own duty is to arrange and cause our bank to effect, the hitch-free movement/payment of the funds from the bank here to such your chosen destination and doing so in the most legitimate, lawful and ethically acceptable manner. To do this effectively, I have also gotten the cooperation of the Head of the International banking Dept of this our bank and the Chief Internal Auditor of my bank, whom I have co-opted in this project and who are already working with me here on the project now. There is currently $17,525, 300.00, (Seventeen million, five hundred and twenty five thousand, three hundred US Dollars only) in the said account, plus the compounded accumulated interests that have accrued to this sum from 1998 to date, all of which we will be asking the bank to pay to us, in your names and favour, vide Swift transfer(s), or cashier's cheques/checks...Please give me your urgent reply in very strict confidence, by email first and we will proceed from there. I prefer you contact me via e-mail: first, for a start.
    Yours very Sincerely
    Mr. Micheal Hurd.
  • Password stealing: if you receive an email from, say, "Bhutan Telecom Helpdesk" asking you to email back your email address and password (or some other details), it is a scam. A reputable source would never request your password by email! Note that the scammers can create a sender email address that might look legitimate. Never send your password to anyone by email.
  • Bank scams: Similar to password scams, you might receive an email that looks legal (say, from Bank of Bhutan), requesting your account number, your ATM pin, etc. Never send such information by email!

    Example (combined with a Nigerian-type scam):
    We are exporters based in the Taiwan. We export raw materials into Europe, Canada, America and Australia. Our company, Yingshi Global Exports Company Limited was established in 2003. We are interested in employing your services, to work with us as our foreign payment receiving officer, who can recieve payments on our behalf for Goods and raw materials we supply to our clients in Europe, Canada, America and Australia. It does not matter whether you are already in full or partial employment, as this is a Part-time position that could become permanent based on your effort and participation which must be characterised by transparent honesty. It will certainly not affect your current business. Having a functional bank account to receive payments is an essential pre-requisite (having a company account is an added advantage). Subject to your satisfaction with this proposal, you will be made our foreign payment receiving officer in your region. If you decide to work for us, please forward to us immediately:
    1.Full Names:
    2.Full Contact Address:
    6.Phone Numbers:
    9.Company Name:
    10.Bank Name (Wire Transfer):
    11.Bank Address:
    12.Account Name:
    13.Account Number:
    14.Sorting Code/Routing Number:
    If you are interested, please kindly get back to me via my personal yahoo account: ( We anxiously await your response.
    General Manager
    Yingshi Global Exports Company Limited
  • Lottery scams: You might receive an email notifying you that you won the lottery in some country. Since you have most likely not purchased a lottery ticket, it is clearly a scam. You will also usually be requested to pay some "fee" in order to claim your win.
    Example: see an example here:
  • Green card lottery: This is not exactly a scam, but it is misleading. Some companies will try to help you enroll in the USA green card lottery for a high fee. However, enrolling in the green card lottery (officially called Diversity Visa) is FREE. Instructions are given here. You can enroll online by going to the official DV Lottery website. Note also that there are some websites posing as official US government sites. The legal website ends with a .gov suffix (not .com, .org, .net, etc.). Finally, winners are not notified by email, so if you receive an email notifying you of your winning, it is probably a scam.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Preventing Virus Infections via Pen Drives

Pen-drives - these ubiquitous and innocent-looking devices carried in pocketbooks and gho pockets around the capital, are a major vector of computer virus infections in Bhutan. Here's how these pen-drive viruses are spread:

You insert your new (and clean) pen-drive into your friend's infected computer. The computer malicously copies the virus to your pen drive (also known as a USB drive or USB stick), thus contaminating it. Then you take your pen drive home and insert it into your own computer. The virus - now on the pen-drive - copies itself to your computer. You're doomed!

Even if you make an effort to keep your computer - and pen drives - clean, friends or family might insert their contaminated pen drives into your computer, thus infecting your computer. To avoid these unintentional infections, here's a Windows XP/Vista utility that disables the pen drives on your computer. First, download the utility to your computer by clicking here. Once you run it, select "Disable USB Drives" and then reboot. Pen drives will no longer be accessible. If you are 100% sure that a pen drive is clean, you can re-enable access by running the utility again, selecting "Enable USB Drives", and then re-booting. Don't forget to disable the pen-drives once you are done.

If you have smart friends, they might find the utility on your hard drive and re-enable access to the pen drives. To prevent that, first add a password to your account: In Windows XP, go to Start->Control Panel->User Accounts. Then pick your account (usually Administrator), and choose Create a Password. The next step is to enable the Guest account, which your friends can use: In Windows XP, go to Start->Control Panel->User Accounts. Then pick the Guest account, and enable it. You now have two accounts on your computer: one for yourself, and another for guests. Don't forget to always log out from your Administrator account after you are finished with the computer.

India Buys 250,000 School Laptops

After the promised "$10 laptop" failed to materialize, the Government of India decided to buy 250,000 XO laptops from One-Laptop-Per-Child. The laptops will be distributed to 1,500 schools. More information about the recent purchase here.
Bureaucrats tend to look for easy solutions to education problems. Throwing money at educational technology is very tempting as it is often seen as a quick fix to the failings of an education system (it also attracts good PR, "we're on the leading edge" etc), but it often fails to deliver the promised results. After all, getting good teachers is a much harder challenge.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Beware of BNB Debit Card Charging Errors

BNB's debit card is a convenient way to withdraw cash at ATM machines. But I recently found out that there is a slight problem in BNB's banking software, which may cause your account to be erroneously charged.
Here's what happened: On Friday I tried to withdraw cash from the ATM machine. After entering the PIN, amount, etc, I waited for some time until finally, the screen displayed a message that the transaction was canceled. No money was spat out. Still, I discovered to my surprise that the whole amount was taken from my account. Apparently, these kind of mistakes may happen when there are network problems between Bhutan and India.

While BNB will make all efforts to reverse the charges in such cases of discrepancy, it is recommended that if you use your ATM, carefully check the account statements. This applies both to cash withdrawals and merchant transactions.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Using the BNB ATM card

The ATM card issued by BNBL is a real upgrade to using checks or cash.

First, it allows withdrawing cash from the ATM machine instead of waiting in line at the bank (up to Nu. 15,000/transaction and maximum of Nu. 30,000/day), as well as when the bank is closed. The two ATM machines in the bank itself are sometimes accessible after hours, and another machine is located in the JOJO building (BNBL claim that there are a total of 10 machines, but I have only located 3).

Second, I use it to pay at various shops, restaurants, and even for paying bills at Bhutan Telecom (main branch). The full list of merchants that accept payment with the BNB ATM card is available on the BNB main page. However, I've encountered at least two places where they claimed that "the machine is not working".

Businesses that want to offer this service can find details here. Another note: although the transaction using the ATM seems immediate, I heard that the money is not automatically transferred into the merchant's account.

For further details on issuing a card see the BNBL webpage.

Druk Air's "Flight Schedule via SMS"

The Druk Air website claims that you can "know flight timing" by sending an SMS message to 2121, with text depending on the day of week:
Monday type INFOMON and send it to 2121,
Tuesday type INFOTUE and send it to 2121,
Wednesday type INFOWED and send it to 2121,
Thrusday type INFOTHU and send it to 2121,
Friday type INFOFRI and send it to 2121,
Saturday type INFOSAT and send it to 2121
Sunday type INFOSUN and send it to 2121.

I tried it from my TashiCell, but received the error message: "Your message sent to 2121 could not be completed. Please try again later." I tried again later and received the same error message.

Has anyone used this service successfully? Any tips appreciated.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

DSL Modems are Out of Stock

If you're thinking of getting a Bhutan Telecom broadband connection, save yourself a trip. BT is out of DSL modems (the modem is the piece of equipment that you install at home - one end connects to the phone line, the other to your computer). In theory, you can bring your own modem, but as far as I know, no shop in Thimphu, P/ling or Jaigaon sells them. When they are available, BT sells them at Nu 1,150, which includes a 1-year warranty. A good deal, especially considering that BT charges Nu 250 if you bring your own modem. So if you're not in a hurry, wait for re-stocking. Expected arrival date of the next shipment of modems: May 10.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Choosing an email provider

(Posted by Galit)

Many people opt for a free webmail account with Yahoo!, Gmail, Hotmail, etc. A webmail account allows you to access your email from any computer that is connected to the Internet. Although Hotmail was the first to offer free webmail accounts, these days the real competition is between Gmail and Yahoo!. Before making your choice, and aside from the look-and-feel which you should check out yourself, here are a few features to consider:
  • Mailbox size (storage): Gmail currently gives a huge space (7GB), and this increases over time. Yahoo! responded by offering "unlimited storage". Hence, you will most likely never reach the limit in either.
  • Ability to forward to another address: Yahoo! requires a paid subscription in order to forward your email to a new address. This means that once you have an email account with them you are "trapped". In contrast, Gmail does allow free forwarding.
  • Mobile phone interface: Gmail has a neat interface for mobile phones. Similarly, Yahoo! has Yahoo! Mobile Services.
  • Attachment type and size limit: If you plan to attach large files, this is something to consider. In Yahoo! the limit is 10MB. In Gmail it is 20MB. Also, Gmail does not allow attaching executable files (such as .exe), to avoid viruses. Both providers scan attachments for viruses.
  • Searching your mailbox: Both providers have search functions to search your email. I've found the Google search to be quite powerful. Yahoo! had a glitch in 2008 where searches were not retrieving any email or only a small subset (this can be fixed by emailing their support -- see this thread)
  • Dormant account: If you will not have any activity in your account for long periods, you should consider the duration before the account will be deleted. In Gmail the duration is around 9 months. Yahoo! (and Hotmail) delete dormant accounts after 4 months.
  • Building up your address book: Gmail automaticlly adds the email addresses of those who you reply to. Yahoo! requires you to enter them yourself.
  • Organizing your emails: Yahoo! uses folders, where you can file an email to a folder. Gmail uses a different system called "labels". You can give an email one or more labels, thereby "filing" it into one or more "folders". These are not really folders although the operation is similar but more flexible.

How to Block your Commercial SMS in B-Mobile

(Posted by Sangay)

Dear friends if you use B Mobile and if you dont want commercial SMS to come in your mobile you can block it. How? Just type COM NO and sent to 75751

Has anyone tried the "bill by email" from Bhutan Telecom?

Bhutan Telecom mentions on its website that bills for a fixed line can be emailed to you. Their "e-billing" webpage reads:
Have your Telephone Bills sent by email. Send your details to 
Has anyone tried this? What are the details that you need to send besides the phone number and your preferred email address? How do they verify that the email indeed belongs to the holder of the account?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bringing a Blackberry from the USA

Last week we had a visitor from the USA who brought along her Blackberry. She has a "world" data plan with T-Mobile (a US mobile provider), which means that she should be able to read email and surf the web around the globe. Although her plan works in Thailand and Vietnam, the data service did not work here in Thimphu. If anyone knows of a Blackberry data plan that does work here in Bhutan, please post.

Optical Fiber Link Fixed

It seems that the fiber link problem announced 10 days ago by Bhutan Telecom was fixed: A few days ago I ran a speed test against a server in the U.S. and got a download speed of about 1.7mbps.

On the BT website, I found no announcement regarding the restoration. Looking at previous Bhutan Telecom news, it seems that only breakages are reported. It would also be useful to know when services are restored. An RSS feed for the BT updates would be a useful addition.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Workshop: Decision Making Using Excel

Following the two successful workshops in Nov 2008 and Mar 2009 and continuing demand, Professor Shmueli will be conducting a third workshop on Apr 29- May 1. This 3-day workshop is intended for top management and decision makers in government, corporate, and private organizations. For more details see To register, please call Rigsum IT&M at 321466.

Where to get online in Thimphu

Here's the list of operating places that I've discovered so far, which offer internet to the public. Please add to this list if you know of more places (by posting a comment):

Wireless only (bring-your-own-computer and connect to the internet):
  • Karma's Coffee (Tashi Rabten building, above Zangthoperli complex): offers free Wifi. Ask for the password. (This is also a great place for coffee!)
  • DIT office complex: Free, no password needed
  • Paro Airport is supposed to have wireless, but I haven't tried it
Computers with internet connection:
  • Public Library (Norzin Lam): Nu. 30/hour. 5 computers available. Printing and photocopying (Nu. 2/ two-sided page) also available. Mon-Sat from around noon to 5.
  • Harmony Village Internet Cafe (in Youth Center): Nu. 30/hour. Around 7 computers. Computer courses for youth. Open every day from around 10 to 5.
  • Internet place near Drasindra computers (Hong Kong Market)

Canceling TashiCell's CRBT Service

I recently purchased a new TashiCell prepaid SIM and noticed that the Caller Ring Back Tone (CRBT) feature was automatically turned on, and so callers were hearing a tune until the call was answered. I didn't really ask for this service, so I inquired at TashiCell's Customer Service about it.

Apparently the company is offering a free month or so of CRBT for new subscribers, but - and here is the catch - they start charging Nu. 1/day after the trial period ends, unless you ask to disable the service. Well, I don't really like this business practice. While it makes perfect sense to offer a free trial period for the CRBT service, it is not OK to start charging for something that a customer did not specifically ask for. I also wouldn't be surprised if many folks out there are not aware of the daily CRBT fee.

Anyway, if you want to cancel CRBT, you can use SMS. Send the message dreg to 9797, and you're done.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

SMS Banking: Take 2

(Posted by Galit)

Following up on my previous post (where I tried BNB's new SMS Banking over the weekend):
On Monday morning I received confirmation emails from BNBL for both the password change and the balance inquiry. It appears as if the service was down (or off?) on the weekend, but it works beautifully now.

Chatting on Your Mobile? Beware of the Risks

A stroll in Thimphu shows the heavy and widespread usage of mobile phones by almost everyone. Although mobile phones have only been around for a relatively short time, recent studies have indicated serious health hazards of using mobile phones. In particular, there has been growing evidence that the electromagnetic radiation causes cancer. The director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute in the USA has issued a warning, suggesting to limit mobile use. More information can be found on ABC News.

The most important points to keep in mind are:
  1. Don't allow children to use mobile phones except for emergencies. Their brains (which are still developing) are very vulnerable to the radiation.
  2. Use a headset or at least a speakerphone, and keep the mobile phone away from your head.
A final note: There have been multiple studies thus far, some indicating health risks and others indicating none. Remember, though, that many years ago the tobacco companies claimed that there are no health risks from smoking...

Don't Forget the www!

Although BBS TV proudly displays its web address - - every evening on the top-left corner of the screen, the specified web address does not work!

You will need to use the longer version with the "www" prefix to access the BBS home page:

This seems to be a common issue with most - if not all - domains in Bhutan. The bt domains are not forgiving in that respect, so remember to always prefix the website address with www.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

SMS Banking: Take 1

(Posted by Galit)

A few days ago I registered for Bhutan National Bank's new SMS banking program. Registration was easy: you fill out aform at the customer service desk, get a Nu. 10 stamp from the next door post office, and submit it back to the customer service desk. I received a colorful brochure and an additional page (also available here) with information on how to perform the different banking operations via SMS.

A day later I received an SMS on my mobile phone from BNBL, confirming "You have been Registered". I was also assigned an initial password. My first mobile banking attempt was to change the password. This is done by sending an SMS to 6070 with the text "Chgp oldpassword newpassword" (replace "oldpassword" with the initial password that BNBL sent you and "newpassword" with your preferred 4-digit password). I waited a while. I waited a day. Nothing happened. Or, at least, I have no idea if my password was changed.

My second attempt was to get my account balance. This is done by sending an SMS to 6070 with the text "Bal password" (replace the word "password" with your 4-digit password). Again, nothing happened.

SMS banking is indeed a great idea. The question is what am I doing wrong? I will follow up when I figure it out.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

BT Broadband: Prepaid or Postpaid?

Bhutan Telecom offers both prepaid and postpaid options for its DSL service. Let's start with the prepaid plans. There are 5 plans, starting at Nu 399 for 2.5GB (the "Personal" package) and going all the way up to Nu 2499 for 15GB (the "Enterprise" package). Much like mobile talk plans, the data quota has a validity of 30 days, but if you renew before expiration - any leftover data quota is carried over.

When it comes to price per GB, there is no advantage to choosing the more expensive plans - they all charge between Nu 160 and Nu 180 per GB (with the 10GB plan being the most expensive). However, the packages differ in their maximum theoretical speeds. The cheapest ones offer 256kb/s, while the most expensive plan offers a theoretical speed of 2Mb/s, or 2048kb/s, which is 8 times speedier than the cheapest package. But again, this is in theory. When the international network is congested, you are out of luck even if you bought the most expensive package.

If you only use the Internet for occasional email, chatting, and browsing, the cheapest package - Nu 399/2.5GB/30 days - will probably suffice. Even if you run out of data, you can always recharge. In fact, even if you download music, I still recommend that you start with the cheapest package. 1GB is equivalent to around 300 typical MP3 songs. If you find that you keep running to the BT One Stop Shop for recharging every week or two, consider upgrading to a more expensive package.

What about the postpaid plans? Again, there are five plans, and they are equivalent in quota and speed to the prepaid ones. They are more expensive than postpaid - between Nu. 190 and 216 per GB, but they do offer a certain convenience - you will never run out of data (you pay Nu 0.19 per extra MB after your quota is finished, which is Nu 195 per GB). I am not in favor of the postpaid plans, especially since the bills keep piling up when you leave town for a few weeks and do not use the service.

Last but not least: You can always check your DSL balance and expiration date here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What happened to my DSL?

For those of us who have become addicted to the fast and affordable broadband Internet in Thimphu, it was quite a shock to wake up yesterday morning. The connection has been frustratingly slow ever since. The reason can be found on the Bhutan Telecom website:
Public Announcement(06-04-09)
BTL would like to inform our valued customers that, Users may experience slow Internet access to international sites as the fiber link running Internet has been damaged.
Restoration is expected to take about 3 days from today(06-04-09).
Inconvinence caused is highly regretted.

Downloading Mantras (and Software) from DrukNet

Although access to international sites is still sluggish (see here), the .bt domains are served locally so they respond pretty quickly.

For example, DrukNet has an FTP server with tons of free stuff, including anti-virus software:

As a bonus, you can also download Sogyal Rinpoche's collection of mantras here:

Inaugurating Thimphu Tech

Welcome to the forum on "Increasing Technological Happiness"!

With the fast flow of technology into Bhutan, many of us have trouble catching up. The goal of this forum is to give news, tips, and interesting bits on all aspects of technology: Internet, mobile communication, where to get tech stuff, how to use it, what technology can do for you, and what to beware of.