You better believe it, some plans for Internet in the Philippines suck.
All Internet sucks in some parts of the Philippines.
But, you can most certainly get excellent Internet in the Philippines. I know, because I have good Internet. So, if I can do it, you can too, if you think about it reasonably.
Internet that sucks
In general, the plans that use wireless technology are not good. Things like 3G and 4G plans and other wireless type Internet access is generally not good. Generally being the key word. I know that I have 4G service on my phone, and in many areas I get speeds of 20 to 40 Mbps, which is plenty fine for me. But, if you live in a smaller city, town, or out in the province, you can more or less bet that your internet will not be good.
Problem is that many people, perhaps even most people, use the wireless plans for their home internet plans. In other words, for their main Internet access at their house, they still use 3G and/or 4G mobile services. That is certainly something that you can do, but you should not expect that you are going to have lightning fast Internet in most cases if this is what you do.
A lot of people will email me and ask me if they can get good, fast, and reliable Internet in the Philippines, and I will email them back and tell them that they certainly can, and explain how to do it. Next email that comes from them is when they tell me that they plan to live way out in a remote provincial area. Maybe a couple hours drive from the nearest decent sized town or city.
Problem is that if you intend to live in such a remote area, wireless connectivity is usually the only choice that you have. So, that is strike one. Strike two is that the amount of bandwidth available and the quality of the Internet infrastructure in those remote areas is either non-existent or of very poor quality.
Generally, if Internet connectivity is something that is important to you, you don’t want to live out in a remote area. If you do that, you can bet that you can bet that you are going to become bitter and you will not enjoy living in the Philippines. So, you have to decide, do you want to have good Internet, or do you want to live out in the middle of nowhere? You won’t get both, you must choose one or the other.
Another thing.. you can get Internet here that is very cheap. But, just like anything else in life, you get what you pay for. If you sign up for a plan that is going to cost P399 per month, P599, P799 and such, you are going to have terrible Internet. It is that simple. I have little sympathy for people that post on Facebook about how bad the Internet is and I ask them what kind of plan they have and they tell me that they have a plan that is wireless and costs them P399 per month. If you are going to:
- Go wireless
- Go cheap
You should expect that you are not going to have a great Internet experience.
How to get Internet that does not suck!
Where to live
If good Internet is a criteria that is very important to you, you will need to chose to live in a major city, or at least a very large town. Really, for the best Internet experiences you need to live in Manila, Cebu, or Davao City. If you choose to live elsewhere you just can’t get the same quality of internet as you can in the 3 largest cities in the Philippines. Everything new will happen in those 3 cities first. New technologies, etc.
Also, the Internet infrastructure will be kept the most up to date, and the most reliable in those 3 cities.
Sure, you can get decent Internet in other places, but it will never be as good as in the 3 major cities in the country. When I say “decent Internet” I am talking about getting that in cities like Cagayan de Oro, and places of that kind of size. Again, if you move to tiny towns, or worse yet, to remote areas out in the jungle somewhere, just expect nothing at all, then anything you do get will exceed your expectations.
What kind of plan to get
Get a plan where your Internet comes to you on a cable or wire. Forget about the wireless stuff, in most cases it won’t work well. It might start out good, but over time the service will become poor with wireless in most cases.
So, when I say to get something that will come to you on a piece of wire or cable, what I am talking about?
- DSL service.
- Cable service (from a Cable TV company)
- Fiber Service (mostly through PLDT FIBR)
How much to spend
Like I said earlier, these cheap plans are not going to offer you good quality service. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- You get what you pay for
- The masses of people will use these cheap services and thus eat up all of the available bandwidth
In my case, I have two Internet plans. Why do I have two? Well, I have my main service, and then I have a backup plan with a different provider in case there are technical issues that are causing slower or non-existent Internet with the first provider. My main provider charges me P1999 per month for unlimited bandwidth at 16 Mbps. My backup plan, through a different company, provides me 100 GB per month at 10 Mbps. The price for the backup plan is P1299 per month.
So, in all, I spend P3300 per month, about US$66/mo. I know that for many that is a lot of money to spend for Internet, but my business is on the Internet, and if I don’t have access it is hard for me to make an income. I don’t mind at all paying that price for reliable and redundant service.
I would say that in general, if you can spend around P2000/mo (US$40), you can get decent Internet, provided that you are located in a larger city.
As I mentioned earlier in this article, my main Internet plan has no data cap. I can use unlimited amounts of bandwidth. My backup plan, though, has a data cap of 100 GB per month.
Know your cap
Many people will write to me and complain about how poor their Internet service is. They will tell me that it used to be very fast, but after 2 weeks it became very slow. I will write back and ask them how much data they are allowed each month. Many will reply that they don’t know how much is allowed. Others will know how much is allowed on their plan, but have no idea of how much of the cap has been consumed.
Generally, if you have a plan at, say, 10 Mbps with a data cap of 50 GB per month, you will get good speeds as long as you have consumed less than the capped amount. Once you go over the cap, though, your speed will be reduced vastly. They will still let you use the Internet on the plan, but you might get just 100 Kbps or something like that (perhaps even slower). So, keep up with how much data you are using.
Many of the Internet providers now offer “data boost” services. For example, my backup plan that offers me 100 GB per month will warn me if I reach 80 GB. I will get a a message that I am nearing my maximum data limit, and I get an offer that I can buy additional data at a very cheap price. For example, I can buy an extra 50 GB of data (good for 30 days) for an extra P99 (less than $2), or larger amounts as well. I can get an extra 500 GB of data (again, good for 30 days) for P499, I believe. If you take advantage of this data boost service, your Internet speeds will not be decreased when you reach your plan’s data cap.
The key is, though, you must know how much data your plan allows and how much you have consumed. If I get the 80% warning when I have just a day or two remaining on the month of service, there is no need to buy more, because I will go back to my 100 GB limit once my new month starts. But, if I get the 80% warning when there are still 15 days left in the month, you can bet that I am going to “top off” my account limit!
Yes, you can
So, yes there is plenty of Internet that sucks in the Philippines. There is also good Internet in the Philippines. The choice is yours as to whether you want to get bad Internet or good. If you want good Internet, pay for it. Live in a larger city. If you don’t care too much about Internet speed, you can live where you want and choose a cheap plan. The choice is yours.