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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Good news for smartphone users

Someone at B-Mobile must be reading our blog. Last week we pleaded for reducing the mobile Internet rates for smartphone users. The good news: Starting February 1, the pay-per-use rate for prepaid & postpaid users will be reduced by a factor of 10. The previous rate was Nu 0.003 / KB, which translates to Nu 3150 per GB. The new rate is Nu 0.0003 / KB, which amounts to Nu 315 per GB.

What does this mean? While the pay-per-use rate is still 50% more expensive than postpaid data plans, surfing the Internet using a phone - prepaid or postpaid - has become affordable. A significant step in the right direction.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Getting alerts (K2 #55)

Question of the Week
I noticed that one of my Facebook friends is always the first to find and post links to interesting news and articles about Bhutan. How does she do that? Is she constantly using Google to find the new content?
— Raj K. in Thimphu

Dear Raj,

No, there is no need to keep searching the web. Let me reveal the secret: Google Alerts. This free service by Google allows subscribers to get an email whenever new content that matches predefined keywords becomes available on the web.

Google Alerts is very easy to use. Go to, enter the keywords (for example, climate change, bhutan, lionel messi, or gross national happiness), select what kind of results you are interested in (news articles, blog posts, and more), how often you would like to be notified (instantly, once a day, or once a week), and how many results you want to handle (only the best, or all results). Finally, click Create Alert. That’s it. From now on, you will receive an email when newly-created web content matches the criteria. You can create up to 1000 alerts, and manage these alerts using the Manage your alerts button.

Better 3G Reception

Bhutan Telecom recently changed the frequency used for their 3G service from 2100 MHz to 850 MHz. The lower the frequency, the better a signal can penetrate through obstacles. In an urban environment, where there are buildings and walls, 850 MHz has better coverage than 2100 MHz. We can expect better reception and higher data rates following this shift.

When buying a smartphone or data card, it’s a good idea to check whether it supports multiple frequencies (also known as bands). The four most common frequencies are 850, 900, 1900, and 2100 MHz. A quad-band phone is one that supports all four frequencies, and will thus work almost anywhere in the world.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Thursday, January 17, 2013

It's Time for Prepaid 3G Plans

Mobile prepaid subscribers who use their phones to access the internet have to pay exuberant fees when using their phone to surf the web, send email, or stream videos. B-Mobile, for example, charges Nu 3000 per GB for their "pay as you go" plan - the only one available to prepaid phone subscribers.

With the improvement in Bhutan Telecom's 3G services, it is now time to move on to the next logical step: offering affordable prepaid 3G plans to mobile users. Currently, 3G plans are available for postpaid data-cards only, costing between Nu 200 to Nu 300 per GB, depending on the plan. These rates should also be available to smartphone users. For many users, these 3G prepaid plans will be their gateway to the Internet, thereby helping to narrow the growing broadband gap.

P.S.: With 3G prepaid plans, many subscribers will also find that carrying a data-card becomes unnecessary, as many smartphones can be tethered to a laptop, acting as de-facto data-card. This will reduce the number of mobile devices, which can help reduce the load on the mobile networks.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hows & whys of short URLs (K2 #54)

Question of the Week
I noticed that many posts on Twitter use links with domain names such as or or What are these links and how are they used?
— Gurung, Thimphu

Dear Gurung,

Thanks for your question! These funny links, known as Short URLs, are indeed very popular on Twitter (, as well as many other websites. They are created mainly for the purpose of shortening a long web address, and making it short. When you click on a Short URL, the browser automatically redirects you to the original (longer) web address. How is that helpful? Well, an important advantage of Short URLs is that they are (surprise!) short. This is very beneficial in Twitter. Similarly to SMSs, posts in Twitter - known as tweets - are limited to 140 characters (characters are letters, digits and all other symbols, such as full-stop, comma, space, etc). Now, imagine that you want to include a link to an interesting news article in your tweet. Some of these links can be very long, easily reaching 100 characters, which leaves you with very little room for your own words. Using a URL shortening service reduces the number of characters needed for the link to around 20, leaving plenty of space for your musings.

Short URLs are also useful when sharing links with others. Let’s say a social studies teacher wants her students to use the Internet for research. She asks them to visit the CIA’s World Factbook page on Bhutan. The web address of this page is quite long: Naturally, it is very easy for a student to make a mistake while typing this long web address, resulting in the infamous “404 Not Found” error message. Alternatively, the teacher can use a URL shortening service to create a Short URL, which is easy to share and quick to type (just visit for CIA’s Bhutan page). It is also common to see Short URLs in printed material, such as newspaper articles, tenders, handouts etc.

I often use Google’s URL shortening service in my Tech Corner columns. Using the service is child’s play. Go to, enter the long address, click Shorten URL, and a corresponding Short URL will be instantly created.

If you want to learn more about URL shortening, just go to, which is - you guessed it - a Short URL.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Monday, January 7, 2013

@Cleartrip: When final cost is not really final

A leading Indian online travel agency, +Cleartrip, is making efforts to promote its mobile app. But a reader - for the sake of anonymity, let's call him Bala - recently found out some serious issues with the app.

Here's what happened. Bala wanted to book a domestic ticket. The fare was Rs 3,925. He used a coupon code to shave Rs 300 off the fare (the code is CTPLAY, by the way). The price magically went down to Rs 3,625. Happy with seeing that the Final Cost is Rs 3,625, Bala clicked on the orange Make Payment button, and was then taken to the credit/debit card payment screen. Bala suddenly noticed that price jumped up by Rs 425 all the way to Rs 4050. Wow.

Conclusion: Nothing is final.

Final cost is Rs 3,625...

... or not.