Bhutan’s main and only Internet Service Provider is Druknet, which is owned by Bhutan Telecom. The history of internet in Bhutan is rather very interesting. Although telecommunication services started in 1963, internet was introduced in the country only in 1994 when Gopher was the browser. There was no www and PINE was the mail system, but the usage of internet was not for the general public then. In 1999, Bhutan government issued an order to make internet available in the country within 3 months. The then king, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk addressed the nation on his 25th anniversary of coronation that the Bhutanese citizens could now avail the internet services. The service was officially inaugurated by the then queen, Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the king’s first wife, at the Royal Banquet Hall in Thimphu. While Bhutan had been cautious before embracing the internet, once the decision was made, the entire project was complete and started operating in just three months.
In the present day, there are a number of internet cafés in most of the large towns of Bhutan. It is also now possible to browse the internet by using the 3G and 4G networks from the SIM card of Tashi Cell or B-Mobile (state-owned Bhutan Telecom). Most of the hotels in Bhutan provide free Wi-Fi to their guests, thought the usage may be limited only to the lobby area and the restaurant. While traveling to areas with limited internet connectivity, travelers have the option of getting a local SIM card from the telecom department with the assistance of your tour guide and use the SIM’s internet services although the network may be very slow at times.
It is in fact, very easy to get a 3G pre-activated SIM card in Bhutan. For this a travelers need to submit their passport photocopies and they might also ask for a recent passport-sized photograph. You can get the SIM from the airport on arrival or from local shops in the market areas of Thimphu or Paro and it won’t cost you more than US$4. Make sure to fill out the tourist SIM card form and ask help of your tour guide if you find difficulty to do so.
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