How’s the Internet in the Philippines

By Bob Martin

A lot of people always ask me – “How’s the Internet in the Philippines?” And, the question is not surprising to hear. One of the big reasons is because you always hear about how bad Internet Connectivity is here. Slow. Unreliable. In and out. Generally Bad. That is what you always hear. Well, my experience has been that it isn’t as bad as you hear, although it is not great either. Right now, though, I must say that I am in Internet Heaven. I’ll explain in a bit.

Firstly, let me say that Internet-wise, I came to the Philippines unspoiled by super-fast broadband. I lived in a relatively remote place in the USA, no broadband available. At the time I moved to the Philippines, broadband was just starting to become available in residential areas anyway, but had yet to reach our location out in the sticks. So, I had grown up on dial-up connections. When we moved here, I was disappointed in the Internet anyway, it was not nearly as good as the dial-up I had experienced in the USA.

When we moved from GenSan to Davao, in 2002, I was pretty happy with the Internet that I was able to get in Davao. We were able to get DSL for the first time in my life. Speed? Ha ha… it was a blazing fast 256 Kbps connection! Well, that was fast for me, compared to what I had been used to, and I was pretty happy with it. That connection was from PLDT (Philippine Long Distance Telephone).

I remained a PLDT customer for 7 years, and always had their most premium residential plan. In the end, I was “supposed to have” a 3 Mbps connection, although I rarely even could get speed readings approaching 500 Kbps. I left PLDT because they kept cutting me off for no reason! First, they said I didn’t pay my bill, even though I showed them a receipt for payment. The next time cut off my account, they could give no reason. Finally, they cut me off for the third time in a month, and the reason they gave (after several days of me demanding to know why), was that they were repairing a cable in my neighborhood, and that I would be off line for “at least 2 weeks.” That was all I could take, so I terminated my account with them.

I got a connection from SmartBro at that time (June 2008). The account was only 384 Kbps, but surprisingly, I could not tell any difference between that and the 3 Mbps that PLDT was supposed to be providing for me (at a much higher price). I liked SmartBro so much that I got a second SmartBro account in just a few days. I have a number of computers operating in the house, so I wanted to get the bandwidth that two accounts could offer me. The account was only P999 (about $20) per month anyway, so I was not too worried about having to pay for two accounts.

A few weeks ago, I read an article about a new service from SmartBro called “Share It.” This “Share It” service is also P999 per month, the same price I was already paying. The catch was, though, that the connection was 2 Mbps instead of 384 Kbps. Wow, that’s like 8 times the speed! Same price! How could you possibly go wrong?

With the Share It service, you pay an initial fee of P2,500, which gives you a wireless router that allows you to share the service among 5 computers (no wonder they call it “Share It” service). I already have two WiFi networks in my house, sharing the other SmartBro accounts, so I really didn’t need another WiFi router, but it is necessary, because this WiFi router is also the modem for SmartBro Share It service. You see, you put a Smart Broadband SIM inside the router. The SIM looks just like a Cellphone SIM card, and it lets the Router connect to the 3.5G service on the Cell Network (HSPDA service).

I got the router on Thursday last week. When I got home, I put the SIM card in the router, plugged it in, and was on the Internet through the new service in less than 5 minutes. It is simple to hook up, and no hassle! Through Internet Speed Tests, I get results ranging from 1.3 Mbps to 1.9 Mbps all the time. Very reliable, and very good!

As I have been writing this article, there are 3 people connected to the Share It service right now. I am also listening to a US Radio station while writing. I just finished using my Vonage telephone to talk with my Mom. All of this going on at the same time, and Internet Speed is excellent, even with all of this activity.

Wow, talk about heaven! I am very happy with SmartBro Share It service, and I recommend it to anybody who is looking for a good broadband service here in the Philippines. P999 per month for 2 Mbps or so? How can you beat that? As far as I know, you can’t!


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