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.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Home Sweet Home (K2 #65)

Question of the Week 
I noticed that DrukNet has new prepaid broadband plans. Which one should I choose?
— Pem D., Thimphu

The cost of Internet access in Bhutan keeps dropping, and the speed keeps increasing. The net effect: Consumers are getting more for their money. Let’s take a short walk down memory lane: five years ago the cheapest monthly broadband package, called “DSL-1000”, was priced at a Nu 1000 and included a meager 0.5 GB of data at a crawling speed of 0.25 Mbps. With today’s cheapest package (the “Home” at Nu 400) we get eight times the amount of data (4 GB) and a maximum download speed of 2 Mbps. Not bad, but we’re still behind other countries. According to the NetIndex’s Household Download Index, Bhutan ranks #179 out of 184 countries, so there’s still room for improvement. However, compared to just a few years ago, this is a major upgrade.

DrukNet offers both prepaid and postpaid plans. The postpaid packages are substantially more expensive compared to the prepaid ones, so avoid them if you can. Let’s focus on the prepaid plans. There are currently three prepaid packages: Home, Office, and Enterprise. All of them offer the same speed (up to 2 Mbps) and the same expiration period (30 days). The only difference between the three plans is their cost and the amount of included data. As seen in the table, the Home package offers the best rate at only Nu 100 per GB. The other two packages (Office and Enterprise) are more expensive, and I couldn't find any good reason to use them. With the expensive packages you pay more per GB. In addition, you are also at risk of wasting a lot of money if you forget to recharge before expiration.

If you are a heavy broadband user and are thinking of recharging using an expensive package to save multiple trips to the BT office, here’s a better alternative. Just ask the BT representative to recharge multiple times using the Home package. For example, if you need 12 GB, simply ask to recharge using the Home package (400 Nu), but three times in a row. You will end up paying only Nu 1200 for 12 GB. This is Nu 300 cheaper than recharging with the 12 GB Office package.

Why does DrukNet offer the Office and Enterprise packages? If you find out, please let me know.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Driving from Thimphu to Paro on the Bumthang-Ura Highway

Google seems to be updating its maps in Bhutan, and this results in some awkward information being displayed. For example, the highway stretch from Thimphu to Paro is sometimes labeled "Bumthang-Ura Hwy". Farms roads are designated as "fam Rd". And if you look carefully, you'll find some other interesting issues...

Perhaps its time to switch to Waze, the popular navigation app? Oops, Google just bought them for $1.03 billion...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Sleep on it (K2 #64)

Question of the Week
When I turn off my Windows laptop, I noticed options for Sleep and Hibernate. What is the difference between the two?
— Nawang S., Motithang

Dear Nawang,

Shut down, sleep, hibernate... Let’s try and sort things out. We’ll start with the most familiar option: Shut down. When you shut down your laptop, all your applications close, and then the laptop turns off. In this “off” state, the laptop uses no power, so the battery can keep for days. When it’s time to use the laptop again and you power on the laptop, Windows restarts (which can take a minute or two – or five) and then you need to re-launch your applications, like MS Word or your Internet browser.

Now let’s talk about sleep. In sleep mode the computer starts dreaming. OK, just kidding. In sleep mode (previously known as Standby), the screen and other power-hungry parts such as the hard disk are turned off, but the computer’s memory — where the running applications are kept — is still powered. This allows the computer to wake up very quickly – usually in a matter of seconds – and snap back to where you left it off, applications and all. In sleep mode, the computer uses little power but it still slowly drains the battery. If you are not using your computer for a few hours, or if the laptop is plugged into power, this is usually a good choice.

Finally: Hibernation. Somewhat like hibernating bears (but not all of them – sloth bears do not hibernate!), this is similar to a deep sleep. Hibernating the computer and waking up from hibernation takes longer than putting it to sleep and waking it from sleep, but when it wakes up, eventually it restores to where you left off. Why use hibernation? Under hibernate mode, the battery can keep for days. Here’s how it works: When you hibernate your computer, the content of the memory – where the running applications are kept – is first saved to the hard disk, and then the computer shuts down, so the laptop uses no power. When you turn the computer on, it restores the memory back from the hard disk. This is why waking up from hibernation takes longer than waking up from sleep. Hibernate mode is useful if you know your computer will be disconnected from power for a day or more, but you still want to kick off exactly where you left off.

The proper way to shut down
If you pull out the power cord or otherwise turn off the power while Windows is still running, this may result in corrupted files and other unexpected trouble. It is best to first shut down Windows, then turn off the power to the computer.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Quick Quiz for Kuensel Readers

This inforgraphic was published in today's Kuensel (TV’s stand-alone influence on society).

Look at the bottom chart (Impact of TV on children), and answer the following question:

If one person equals 2%, and two people equal 4%, how many people equal 38%?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Updated Broadband Packages: Strange Pricing

Fantastic news! As reported in the Kuensel a few days ago, Bhutan Telecom has reduced the price of its broadband packages by about 40%. In addition, all broadband users have been upgraded to the maximum circuit speed of 2 Mbps (actual download speed is often much less).

Since that the package you choose does not affect speed or validity, the main factor when choosing a prepaid package should be the cost per GB .

So which one should you choose? Let's look at the table. The Cost per GB is displayed in the last column.

Package NameRecharge AmountData QuotaCost per GB
4 GB
Nu 100
12 GB
Nu 125
24 GB
Nu 104

One would expect to get a discount when recharging with a more expensive package — or at least not to get penalized for higher recharge amounts. Surprise! Compared to the cheapest package (Home), when you recharge with the Office package, you pay 25% more per GB! The most expensive package (Enterprise) package, is cheaper than the Office but still more expensive than the Home.

What might be the explanation for such an unusual pricing scheme?