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Thailand Power Poles

Today I woke up this morning and went to the balcony and saw some guy climbing on the power pole and power lines. Actually this happens a lot in my street because they are building so many buildings along it so it wasn't as strange a sight. But it did get me thinking about how they look. It seems nearly every week they are adding a new line to the power pole making it more and more messy, why, why do they need so many lines up there.

Thailand Power Poles

Power poles in Thailand

Today they were installing a High pressure sodium lamp that will illuminate the street, actually about a year ago they did the same thing but with fluorescent lamps that did very little to create enough light, so I guess someone somewhere decided to put the HPS lamps in. Now it's so bright right near my window that my room is always illuminated. I'm sure i'm not the only one annoyed at this, but at least it doesn't look so dark in the street.

The power poles (or Telegraph Poles if your from Australia) are so messy, you can see in the picture how many lines there are and there seems to be no end in the number of lines they are going to put up there. Why are there so many lines and why is it so messy? Is there really no other solution that they have to look like that?

I thought I'd get to the bottom of it and ask some of the workers about the lines, which ones where which and why they are a chaotic mess. Firstly unlike the US they do not have underground lines, the reason for this is because it's cost prohibitive and time consuming. It costs around 12 times more to build underground tunnels for the lines than it does to hire someone to throw up new lines above the ground. In a country like Thailand where funds are low makes total sense.

The second problem is they don't have line sharing. Line sharing is when say TOT have a line and another company can lease the same line and run their cable through it. This would make less wires everywhere but it must be some sort of protectionism I guess. I'm not sure.

Thirdly and this is the ultimate reason why there are so many lines. Most of the lines you see are from cable TV. Well there not using optics for the last mile. How it works is there will be a box for the company cable system, the main line goes into that box. Same works for Internet as well. Now to get your house hooked up the Internet a line must be run from that one box to your house. Your house may be 400 meters away, doesn't matter, someone will come make a new line from the main box probably passing about 14 power poles until it gets to your house. Adding a copper line for the last mile to your house saves the companies probably billions of dollars and allows you to get fast Internet access for $20 a month and cable TV from $10 a month.

If the power poles and lines didn't look like a colossal mess like they do I guarantee the fees for Internet and cable TV would almost triple. So next time i see how messy they are I'll be happy to know that I pay virtually nothing for those basic services and who cares what the power poles in Thailand look like anyway.

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About Chris

Chris founded LivingThai.org in 2011 and has received over 3 million visitors. He has lived here for over 10 years and speaks reads and writes very good Thai.


  1. Thailand and Laos, day twenty-two (Chiang Mai, Thursday) – THORNBERRY - February 10, 2017

    […] I think that one of the most striking things that differentiates streetscapes in Southeast Asia versus Melbourne is the cables.  In Southeast Asia there seem to be multitudes of power, phone, communication and television cables lining the streets, complete with loops of spare cord attached to fix any breakages.  In Melbourne there are main poles with cables attached at regular intervals – sometimes the cables are underground and you don’t see any overhead cables at all!  I have pondered why there is such a difference for some time, so eventually googled it.  I’m not the first person to have asked: you can read some answers here and here. […]

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