SMART Bro Update

The saga continues.  The Holy Grail of reliable, broadband internet connectivity is almost within reach.  Though I can’t see it, I can sense the aura and glow of that heretofore-illusive goblet just out of reach, around the corner.

Like my brownout-prone electricity service, both my internet connectivity and my relationship with SMART Bro have had their share of ups and downs.  I’ve written a bit about my search for reliable internet connectivity throughout the past seven months.  My search started here, continued here and here, and turned a “little testy” here.  In that last article, after a bit of venting, I finished with the following:

If and when all problems are solved [i.e., I am receiving 24/7 continuous internet connectivity without drop-outs, my Download and Upload speeds come close to matching SMART Bro's average customer speeds, and I receive adequate compensation - in the form of a true billing credit - for the lack of service I've been subjected to over the past four months], I will immediately and joyfully rush to my laptop and compose an article praising SMART communications and lauding their broadband internet service, and post it without delay – provided that I’m able to access LiP.

Well, I am a man of my word.

Join Expat Island

Just as soon as my internet provider meets the conditions mentioned above, out comes the article singing the praises of SMART Communications and the wonders of SMART Bro broadband internet connectivity.  Nevertheless, that grail is not yet in hand, so the article awaits another day for its birth.

In the mean time:  Some praise and kudos are due SMART.  During the past two months, technicians and support people from SMART have been working with me to improve my situation.  This “working together” option is a wiser choice than a confrontational approach.  Outside of due respect owed my fellow man, there’s a certain magic in getting things done when you have a smile on your face and a pleasant politeness in your voice.

At present, my internet connectivity and the service I receive have improved considerably.  The number of service dropouts (the old disappearing internet trick) has dropped significantly.  I now have multiple days of continuous service where previously I couldn’t even string 24 hours worth of connectivity together to save my life.  There are still service outages, but I do believe that some, if not a majority of them, relate to network upgrades.  There is an extremely enhanced hope for 24/7/365 service in the very near future!

AuditMyPC Internet Speed Results ~10:00AM PHT, 1/29/2010

Current download and upload speeds are much faster than they were in the past few months.  Average download speeds last December were approximately 100 Kbps, with days of “slower than dial-up” service being the norm.  During the same period, I experienced curiously higher upload speeds, averaging approximately 175 Kbps.  Normally, upload speeds are slower than download speeds, so I knew something  just was not right.

Current average speeds for downloading and uploading are 450 Kbps and 198 Kbps, respectively.  Now, that’s quite a difference!  On occasion, speeds are much higher.  I would imagine these higher speeds occur during low-usage hours.  Using the extremely accurate broadband speed test at AuditMyPC.com, I’ve bagged some impressive results every now and then.

Further Quality Testing via PingTest.net

Other noted improvements deal with the network Quality of Service (QoS) being provided.  These include network latency (ping testing), network jitter, and bit error rate testing.  As the AuditMyPC test results show, there still is a little work required to enhance QoS for downloading.  Additionally, the Max Pause (the longest pause recorded during the Broadband Speed Test data download) should be lower than 100.  I use a number of on-line tools and sites for testing and reporting (like PingTest.net).  They tend to confirm all I’ve observed.

My Thanks Go To SMART.  As you can see, my internet connectivity has greatly improved from the near “dial-up” conditions that I had been enduring for some time.  All CREDIT goes to SMART and THEIR TECHs.  They’ve had their hands full over the past few months – repairing typhoon damage and other problems.  Still, they found time to work with me and make me a happy subscriber.

SMART has informed me of upgrades that are in the works for our province and our cities and municipalities.  Currently, Vigan, Ilocos Sur serves as our major internet connect site.  I hope that within a very short time, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte will become our “backbone” connection.  In time (fingers crossed), the upgrades should go all the way to the telecommunications tower that’s just a mile or so away.

I watch that tower daily for signs of life crawling on it!

THANK YOU, SMART COMMUNICATIONS.

Post Author: PaulK (203 Posts)

Paul is a CPA and a retired tax accountant, having served companies and corporations of all sizes, as well as individuals, in public accounting practices. Prior to what he refers to as his "real job," he served a 24-year career in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Master Chief Petty Officer. It was during this career that he met and married his OFW spouse of 35+ years, Emy, while stationed in London, UK. (Though he pleaded for the assignment, Paul never received orders to the Philippines.) A "Phil-phile" from an early age, Paul remembers his first introduction to the Philippines in the primary grades of a parochial elementary school where, one week each year, children donated their pennies to purchase school supplies, food and other necessities for Filipino children in need. That love for Filipinos continues to this day. Calling Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte--in the far northwestern part of Luzon--home (just about as far away from Davao as one can be while still being on one of the major islands) Paul prefers a more relaxed provincial life style, and willingly shares a different view of the Philippines from "up north"!


Comments

  1. says

    Hi Paul – As you know from our private communications, I have also been fighting an ongoing battle with SmartBro. I will also be filing an update here on LiP soon. I’m glad that things have been getting better for you with SmartBro, and I hope they continue to do so!

    • Paul says

      Hi Bob – Fingers and toes crossed here in hopes for successul resolution of your issue.

      As is, things still look pretty good, so long as connectivity is available. I think that brownouts elsewhere may be having an effect on our internet service. Had a loss of connectivity for thirty minutes this morning, suspiciously between 7:00AM-7:30AM.

      Had some unscheduled, unannounced and unexpected brownouts last week that really hit the internet service pretty bad. Connectivity and quality of service were severely degraded. It looks like things may have been remedied by today.

      • says

        Hi Patrick – I will reply to your e-mail later today, I did receive it. To be honest with you, I have had no service from Smart since September 1, 2009, although I have been paying every month (they have threatened me if I don’t pay, because I have a contract with Smart, although Smart has provided no service in those 6+ months). I have spent probably 20 to 30 hours on the phone with Smart, and made numerous trips to the Smart Center here in Davao during these past months. All with no results so far. It is frustrating, and I will be documenting the process here on my site soon. I think your company should be extremely embarrassed at the “service” that has been provided to me in this time.

        Anyway, I do appreciate your offer to help. I have had past offers of help, but so far have gotten no results, only a lot of work on my end, but no effort from Smart. I will be in touch by e-mail and see if this can ever be resolved, although frankly, I am not hopeful, based on the track record.

  2. Paul Thompson says

    Hi Paul;
    Both Globe and Smart informed me that I was too far out of town to receive their Broadband. Never sell any service to an area where it might be needed. But someday…..

    • Paul says

      Hi Paul – Of course, you know that if you paid to have it brought out to you, you and all of your neighbors could enjoy it as well. It’s the pioneers who take the arrows! :lol:

  3. says

    I just recently did a story about Smart on my blog the other day and am about to update our results so far.

    I decided it was time for me to get my fiancee internet at home since I brought her a laptop and magicjack on my trip there to Bacolod. We researched all the plans extensively and decided on the Plug-It modem unlimited plan which costs 999PHP a month. It is a wireless plan that will allow her to take it other places other than just at home. The only scary thing to us was the 2 year lock in agreement. She went to Smarts office in Bacolod and there was a lady trying to get out of her 2 year agreement since service was horrible. My fiancee applied for the service anyways and we waited a few days. Panic starting creeping in about the 2 year agreement so we decided to get the prepaid Plug-It modem for 999PHP, 5 free hours included to test the service since there is no lock in agreement at all associated with it.

    Long story short, tower is up the street from her home, service was bad the first few days but great now even when using the magicjack for calls which Smart told her was illegal to use. LOL, not the first time I have heard them say that to someone. Few drop outs and speed has been good. The prepaid is not a long term solution due to costs of loads but it allowed us the flexibility we needed to test it out before getting locked in. We will be getting her the unlimited plan soon.

    Considered the wired connection from Smart and PLDT but we like the portability the Smart Plug-It modem offers.

    • Paul says

      Hi LJ – Outside of major metropolitan areas (and, in some cases, within certain metro puroks) wireless internet connectivity seems to be “iffy” most of the time. SMART Corp. is working on it, though. I’ve spoken with some “shirts & ties” (management) who explained their projected upgrades for 2010 here in Ilocos Norte. They sound impressive, but we’ll certainly have to see it to believe it.

      Sort of like paving a dirt road in the province. 40 meters gets paved just about every election time. :lol:

    • says

      Just for the record, VOIP “call around” services such as Magic Jack and Skype, which I may or may not use ARE illegal in the Philippines. Illegal for Internet cafe’s to offer, etc. Yes, I know, sounds LoL to Americans, but it’s the law and just as occasionally happens with pirated DvD raids, people have gotten in trouble over it. PLDT has the right to control such services. Hence many computer shops may offer it, but seldom show it on signs in public view.

      Always better to avoid telling the world what we do here in the Philippines that might not be legal, perhaps IMO.

      Anyway, good on you Paul … like Bob’s recent noise situation, working within the system rather than railing against it does seem to work a lot better here .. and if you work your way up the ladder, someone at Smart generally will listen … after a time or two … or three or four …

      I’m getting way over rated speed for my Canopy service lately … long may it continue. I just returned from three weeks in Florida on a 3 Mbps able modem and I was both pleasantly and unpleasantly surprised. Certain things in the States did seem way faster, but overall the ‘Net wasn’t nearly as much faster than I thought it would be … more time is lost waiting for servers to respond tan can ever be regained with line speed improvements … and a great many websites don’t seem to care how long they take to load… host on the cheapest server possible, and blame the slow response on the user seems the name of the game.

      That said, I am anxiously awaiting Sly Cable’s promised cable upgrade and cable mdem service in my neighborhood … if ever …

      • Paul says

        Hi Dave – Welcome back and thanks for the comments.

        Magicjack? Skype? I’ll have to “google” those and see what they’re all about so I know what to avoid. :lol:

        The increase in speeds and quality of service are great, so long as nothing else gets in the way. Recent rolling brownouts in Luzon have impacted internet services, as have taking servers down to install operating system updates, etc.

        Had a drop of internet service (connectivity was there, just couldn’t access the internet) for 30 minutes this morning at 7AM. Suspiciously looks like a brownout somewhere to me. ;)

      • says

        Dave,

        When you say VOIP services are illegal do you actually mean that criminal charges can be brought for using the services? Or is it more like just breaking the service agreement you have in place with your ISP?

  4. John Miele says

    PaUl: the Internet was down for me too… 6 days. “overloaded” the base station when brought back online. Skyp is not legal in many countries….particularly where communication is highly regulated, like the middle east, but I was surprised about the rp! It explains why the rates to the rp are substantially higher… Calls to regulated countries usually are.

    • Paul says

      Hi John – My original problems with “the Bro” dealt with actual service being provided by them. They really went to work and took care of a number of issues with their equipment, routing, etc. (I could see the daily progress as I ran tests daily for about two and a half months. Most of those problems popped up during the typhoons.

      Now, the problems are brownout related. Some sights appear not to have backup power, and go down with a brownout. Those outages are the suspiciously “well-timed” events that start close to “on the hour” and last a more or less precise length of time.

      A little deregulation would be nice, but then I don’t think the telecommunications companies are “ready” for wide-open operation without trying to break the consumers’ wallets.

  5. says

    I looked on the internet and found some smart bro hacks to speed up your service and i also got a 3g siganl attena and repeater.It really helped out with my service even if no 3g is available i can still allways get the gprs signal as for skype and magic jack i didnt know that was illegal in the philipines thanks for the warning.Now if i can only fix the brown out problem

    • Paul says

      Hi Jason – Yes, the “hacks” have been around for a while and mostly deal with setting up the MIR Bandwidth Settings for QoS (Quality of Service) in the Configuration of the SM (Subscriber Module). Sometimes good, sometimes no change.

      I think the best one can do is try and obtain a 7MHz SM from the SMART Bro technicians/installers. That’s pretty much an older “industrial” unit used by businesses, governments, etc. Armed with one of those, and if you have the capability of a 100MHz LAN or computer network card, you can get considerably higher sustained data rates (dn & up)by changing your Link Speed for the General Configuration of the SM to match that LAN/card (e.g., Auto 100F/100H). SMART techs set the SMs up for Auto 10F/10H which in turn limits the sustained data rates terribly.

      (That’s what I heard ;) )

      • says

        yeah ive been thinking about taking mine off the pole and opening it up seeing whats inside maybe some switches or somthing but for now my hacks and wcdam attenna and repeater are working fine for me. Ill keep my eye out for one of those bussiness antennas wouldnt mind having one

  6. Patrick says

    Hi Paul,

    I’m glad to hear that your SmartBro service has improved from when we first received your email. I thank you for rasing this concern and letting us know where improvements were due. Please do let us know if we can be of further assistance to you.

    Patrick
    in behalf of the Social Media Services

    • Paul says

      Thank you, Patrick – I will continue to monitor download/upload speeds, latency and network jitter from this end. Over the past two months, network speeds have increased substantially, coupled with shorter “ping” times and low jitter rates.

      Consistency is still a problem, however it is difficult to tell whether internet outages are due to “brownout” conditions (no power or UPS) between us, or to network problems. Will try to determine which it may be. (Timing of internet outages suggest possible brownout connections.)

      One item that I’ve noted that could further help here in Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte: Earlier today, my Subscriber Module was logging receive power levels of -63 dBm with a jitter (interference level) of 1. During this time, download and upload speeds were extremely fast (>1 Mbs), as experienced by a number of local users. Current receive levels (5:30 PM 3/5/10) are -75 dBm and jitter of 3.

      I am in direct line of sight with the SMART communications tower, clear of any vegetation or other barriers – a clean direct shot. Why the power levels increased is not known, however the effects were most desireable. Could output power levels for the tower’s modules be increased?

      Thanks again.

  7. Tony says

    My oh my oh my,why my internet connection with smart is so bad is beyond me I am extreamely frustrated and at wits end with that company Smartbro has to be the worst ISP i have ever had if someone ever asks me what internet they should get I imediately say do not and I repeat NOT get Smartbro service is bad and technical support is bad also at least here in Bulacan…. Just once I wish I could get service to stay up more than 1/2 an hour a day. The only worst internet provider in the Philippines is Globe but Smart and Globe are hand in hand with the lousy service they provide their customers I urge people not to waste their time with these companys like I have.

    • says

      Hi Tony, sorry to hear of your bad experience. In the past I had trouble with Smartbro. Now, though, both Smart and Globe provide me with excellent Internet service.

  8. Ed says

    Hey guys, I’ve been using SmartBro for more than 4 yrs now, and i really have no complaints, great upload and download speed, no buffering when watching videos, etc.

    But i do have one question…. can Smartbro Wireless Broadband compete to a Hardline connection (DSL) in On-Line Gaming?
    I’m an avid Gamer…. sometimes playing 16Hrs a day… but I feel the game to be a bit Laggy, sometimes a .2 sec. delay.. but when i play at Comp.shops using a “Hardline” LAG is not an issue….

    • says

      Hi Ed – Not being a gamer or heavy “real-time” user, I couldn’t say. I would mention, however, that DSL connections seem to have fewer “outages” and speed problems than the wireless broadband by Smartbro. Of course, I’m also sure that this would vary by location.

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