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How is the Internet in the Philippines?
My Experience over 2 Decades in Country
Internet in the Philippines.
Over my years of living in the Philippines, one of the most discussed (mostly negative) topics among expats. It is also a largely negative discussion among Filipinos.
Now, I am moving back to the States soon, so today, I have decided to go back through the archives of the site, look at my experience with internet in the Philippines, and put together an article that will take readers through a little bit of Internet history in the country, what the present day situation is, and a bit about future plans for internet in the Philippines.
In 2013, Cable Internet Came to my Neighborhood
When I found out that the local Cable TV company was bringing Cable Internet to my neighborhood, I was ecstatic. Here is what I wrote about it at the time.
Last year (2012) SkyCable had sent a representative through our neighborhood to let everybody know that Cable Internet would be available in our neighborhood soon. At the time, they said that within a month or two, we would be able to subscribe to Cable Internet. It didn’t happen. Two months after they came to our house to announce the pending offering of Cable Internet in the Philippines, we called SkyCable to find out if it was already available, they even denied that there were any plans to offer it in our neighborhood! Uh, what?
But it happened
Well, about another 6 months later, Cable Internet was indeed available in our neighborhood. Around mid-December, we called and asked for a free trial of the service, something that they had been offering. You got to try out the service for 15 days free of charge without making any commitment until you were able to see how it worked. So, when we called and inquired, after just a few days they sent a crew out to our house to hook us up. I was so excited, could not wait!
6 Mbps was fast at that time!
We had requested their 6Mbps plan. They offered plans up to 10 or 15 Mbps, as I recall. The 6Mbps plan that we were going to try was P3,999 per month, and that included a Gold Package Cable TV subscription. We had previously been subscribing to the Silver Package for the TV, so we would be upgraded to Gold, and would have to pay nothing for the TV subscription, as that is free with the Internet package.
Hey, it doesn’t work!
Well, when the crew came out to hook up our Cable Internet, it did not work, but they told us that it would be working within 30 minutes or so, and they left. It never did work. After 24 hours, we called the hotline and explained that it still was not working, they did nothing. We called several times, and after a week or so, they sent somebody out to our house and he got it working. However, about 30 minutes after he left, it stopped working again. We went through this for almost 3 weeks, people would come, it would work for a while, and then stop working. They had to keep extending our 15 day free trial, because it just never worked! When it would work for 15 minutes or an hour, it was quite impressive, very fast, but having it work only in short spurts was certainly not impressive.
Who is this old guy?
Finally, after several weeks of this hassle, a new technician came to our house. He was an older guy, and frankly, when I saw him, I thought to myself – How is this old guy going to know what to do?
Well, I am happy to report that I was wrong. He had it working in 5 minutes, and it has worked ever since.
At first, I was super happy with the service that I was getting from SkyCable. In fact, I was ecstatic. I had been very down on the service after the problems we had getting it working, and I didn’t think I would subscribe when the trial period was finished. But, it was so good that I relented and signed up for the service.
For several more weeks, it was great. I loved the SkyCable, and I used it all the time. My previous Internet Provider was Globe Broadband DSL, at 3Mbps, and I was very happy with their service for years already. I opted to keep both the DSL and the Cable Internet in the Philippines. Having two services was good for me, as Internet is my business, and I needed to have a good connection at all times, if possible. I am glad that I kept the Globe.
But when I was a paying subscriber it was terrible
After a few weeks of being a paying subscriber with SkyCable, the Cable Internet service began declining. Let me be clear, it is not terrible, but it also is nowhere near the quality that I was getting under the free trial. If I do a Speed Test, and use SkyCable’s own server for the test, I get the full speed that I am paying for, around 6 Mbps. If I use another company’s server for checking the speed, though, I sometimes only get speeds of 2 Mbps or so. Disappointing.
I will say this, if I get up in the middle of the night (I often get up at 3am or so), I can download files at super speeds, it is wonderful. However, during normal business hours, speeds do suffer. Another problem I have had with SkyCable is that often times, the service just cannot finish loading a webpage. It will just keep trying to finish download certain files, but can never seem to complete the process. It is frustrating. Additionally, I find that on some sites, my IP address is banned when using SkyCable. This indicates to me that some of their subscribers have abused the service in the past. You see, here in the Philippines you generally don’t get a dedicated IP, you are sharing the IP address with other subscribers.
Turned out that Globe was better
Because of some of the problems, I have come to the conclusion that the Globe service is much better and more reliable. Frankly, even though I am paying a lot less for the Globe (about P2,400 per month including my landline), the service is better. Because of this, I almost always use Globe as my primary Internet connection, except during the hours of like 3am until 8am or so. When 8am arrives, though, I switch back to Globe and am happy with the service they provide.
So, would I get the SkyCable again if I had the choice to make? It’s a 50/50 decision, I can’t say for sure. The speeds are nice, but there are problems. If I were paying about half for the service, I would probably feel OK about it. But, paying basically $100 per month, it is not quite good enough to justify the price, in my opinion. We have a contract, though, for one year, so I’ll have to stick with them at least that long. It is not bad enough for me to argue to break the contract, but it’s not good enough for me to be excited about it. Hopefully, by the time the year is out, the service will have improved. We’ll see!
So, as you can see, it was a pretty rocky start. But, that was only the beginning.
Does the Internet in the Philippine Suck?
Over the years, to be honest, things got better and better. But, most people kept complaining about how bad the Internet in the Philippines is. It was a bit different than what I was experiencing.
So, I decided to put together my thoughts about Internet in the Philippines, how to get good Internet in the Philippines, and how to avoid bad internet in the Philippines.
So, does it suck?
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 in the Philippines 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 keyword. 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 in the Philippines will not be good.
Problem is that many people, perhaps even most people, use the wireless plans for their home internet in the Philippines. 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 the Philippines 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.
Live in a remote area?
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 in the Philippines, 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 in the Philippines 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 experience with internet in the Philippines.
How to get Internet in the Philippines that does not suck!
Where to live
If good Internet is a criterion that is very important to you, you will need to choose 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 am I 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 the 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, the 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 in the Philippines that sucks. 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.
Best provider of Internet in the Philippines
Wanna know the best Internet Provider in the Philippines? It’s a secret that I don’t share widely. After all, if I shared it with everybody the system would get all clogged and it would not be all that great anymore! So, I keep it a tightly held secret, but somebody asked me how to get the best Internet here in the Philippines, so I really have no choice but to share my secret!
Truth is, there is no “best” Internet provider for the Philippines. Different Internet providers are better than others, but it all depends on where you are. In the podcast today, though, I provide you with information on how to find out what the best Internet is for the area where you will move, and how to choose the best place to move based on where the best Internet can be had in the area that is of interest to you!
I have been living here in the Philippines for many years now, and as a person who uses the Internet to conduct business and earn a living, having good Internet is very important to me. Because of the importance that the Internet plays in my life, I have learned the good and the bad about having usable Internet in the Philippines. Today, I share a bit of what I have learned so that you can also have a good Internet Service when you live in the Philippines.
Many expats complain about the poor Internet in the Philippines. However, you don’t have to have poor Internet service! I have Internet Service that is even better than most people can get in the United States, and I have it at a very low price too! Today, I will show you how you can enjoy good Internet instead of just complaining about the poor Internet in the Philippines, so tune in to the Podcast and find out!
How we make sure we get good internet in the Philippines
In 2018, Feyma and I moved from Juna Subdivision in Davao City to Skyline Village, also in Davao. We followed our normal process to make sure we were able to get the best internet in the Philippines.
Getting good internet in the Philippines seems to be the number one topic that I get asked about, or perhaps I should say warned about. “Make sure you get good Internet.” I hear it daily.
No worries. I always get good Internet in the Philippines. In fact, before we will make a commitment to any house or location, we always check what is available Internet wise first read we make sure that good-quality Internet is available. My business is on the Internet, so I cannot have bad Internet in the Philippines. It is our number one consideration.
At our old location, in Juna subdivision. We had two Internet providers. I always go for redundancy, because being in the business, I need to have Internet all the time, if at all possible. Having redundant connections generally assures that. Sure, there are times, rarely, when both connections are out, but it is very infrequent. Our main Internet connection in Juna was provided by SkyBroadband, a cable connection to the internet in the Philippines. That account was 15 Mbps, and quite reliable. At one point we had a 50 Mbps connection with Sky, but it was not so reliable. When we rolled back to 15 Mbps, we were quite happy with that. Our second provider was Globe telecom, through which we had a DSL connection, 10 Mbps. We almost always got around nine Mbps through Globe, which we considered satisfactory for a backup connection.
At our new location, we already have SkyBroadband hooked up. The same 15 Mbps connection that we had in Juna. It works great, and we are very happy with it. We will, again, have redundancy, with two Internet providers. Our second connection will be through PLDT, a fiber connection, with 50 Mbps. We have already applied, and the connection should be installed in a week or two from the time you read this. I’m really looking forward to that and hoping it is going to be as great as it sounds. I have many friends using PLDT fiber, and they all have good reports. On both connections, we have unlimited bandwidth, no data caps at all.
When I have been at the new house, I tried out my phone, using 4G, and was able to easily get a connection at 12 Mbps, which I’m quite happy with as well.
So, everything is looking good, with our Internet at the new location. In the coming days and weeks, I will be giving you a full report on our new place.
Things turned out well
As things progressed and we completed our move, things turned out really well. We were able to get PLDT FIBR at 100 Mbps, and as a backup, we also got SkyCalbe 16 Mbps service. At our new location, our Internet in the Philippines was great! Both PLDT and SkyCable offered very reliable service at the speeds they promised. No complaints.
But, sometimes outages or slowdowns happen.
Should I blame PLDT?
Fiber Optic Internet in the Philippines Service
I got PLDT FIBR Internet when we moved to Skyline. My Internet speed on the plan is 100 Mbps, with unlimited data.
The service has been very reliable in my book. From time to time the speed slows way down (as low as 1 Mbps), but that is rare. When it happens< really don’t worry about it, because it always gets back to normal within a short time. Usually, the maximum duration of this type of slowdown has been a couple of hours.
These kinds of slowdowns only happen a couple of times per month, so I don’t have a huge problem with it.
Backup Internet in the Philippines
One of the reasons that slowdowns don’t really bother me much is because I always keep redundant internet connections. Since Internet is my business, it is how I earn a living, having more than one Internet connection is important to me.
For my second Internet connection, I have a 16 Mbps SkyCable. This is a Cable Modem connection.
I have been using SkyCable for about 5 years or so, I guess. There have been bumps in the road with SkyCable. It can’t compare with PLDT FIBR in speed or reliability, but it is still pretty good. For a backup, it is fine.
The last 2 to 3 weeks
In the past 2 to 3 weeks, though, there have been two major problems with PLDT FIBR.
First, a few weeks back, on a Thursday, my Internet speed went down to 1 Mbps. I really did not worry about it, because as I said when this has happened with PLDT FIBR in the past, the speed was back to normal within a couple of hours. I switched to SkyCable and forgot that I was not using PLDT FIBR anymore. It was not until the next day that I remembered, and I switched back to the 100 Mbps connection, expecting full speed again.
The speed was still 1 Mbps. I still did not get too upset and didn’t do anything. That was a mistake.
I called the PLDT Hotline on Saturday
On Saturday, it was still a poor connection so I called the PLDT FIBR hotline to inquire about the problem. I should have called on Friday.
The PLDT repairmen work on Saturdays, but I don’t think they work on Sundays. So, since I called on Saturday, they did not come until Monday. I do consider that good service, though. If I had called the PLDT FIBR repair people on Friday, as I should have, they probably would have been at my house on Saturday, I am sure.
When the technician came to our house, everything looked good. Good news? No, that was bad, because, with everything good at location, they had to track down the problem elsewhere. They found that the reason that PLDT FIBR was not working was that a truck hit and broke our fiber optic cable up the road! That is why our Internet had been so slow and eventually stopped working altogether!
The Fiber Optic cable was replaced and everything was good! I was happy!
New Event this week
This week, it happened again! Not a broken PLDT FIBR cable, but the same results. Almost non-existent Internet. This time, though, PLDT FIBR and other PLDT services like DSL were out all over this part of Mindanao.
As it turned out, a road construction company was digging and cut a Fiber Optic cable! Service was out for 2 days this time.
Yesterday afternoon, the Cable had been repaired and speed was back to normal, 100 Mbps. To say the least, I was once again happy with my PLDT FIBR performance!
Am I mad at PLDT?
No, I am not. I don’t like it that service has had problems over the past few weeks, not happy at all. However, in both cases, it was no PLDT’s fault.
The first case, a truck that was oversized hit the cable running over the road (underground cables are virtually unheard of in the Philippines except in a few selected areas).
The second case, a different company not related to PLDT caused the problem.
I consider these isolated incidents I don’t consider it to be a reason to be upset with PLDT.
PLDT FIBR is the best internet I’ve ever had in my life, including in the United States. So, I will be patient when these kinds of incidents happen. And… I’ll hope they don’t happen again!
Some outages are not their fault
A few days ago, we were having horrible Internet with some disconnects and our cable TV wasn’t working. It turned out to be a problem on our end and not Skycable. Specifically, the cable for our TV was cut, literally.
In our street, there are poles that carry electricity and are also used by ISPs and cable companies for Internet and cable TV. There’s a lot of cables overhead and sometimes it seems like a rat’s nest. One of the cables was for our cable TV, which was sitting fairly low, that’s how the cable company left it and we haven’t had any problems since getting it so we didn’t think it would be a problem. Well, we were wrong because it now rests broken off on one end. We think a big truck passed through and didn’t see it, which is possible since a lot of big trucks pass through every day.
A few years ago, our street had a bunch of speed humps, in some places, there were 2 within 10 feet of each other. It was a pain in the butt for cars to go through our street because of them. Most people wouldn’t bother going through our street, trucks especially wouldn’t come through. Eventually, the city decided to remove all the speed humps. We thought it was a good change because even for us, speed humps were a bit of a pain. After a while though, we realized that speed humps were important for, well, managing the speed of cars. Now, cars go through our street at really fast speeds and it’s a miracle that no one’s been hurt yet. Trucks also come through a lot because our street is a shortcut between 2 major roads. There was actually 1 case, not on our street, but fairly close, where a car was going really fast trying to see how fast his car could go. Luckily there were some TMC people close by who chased him, I hope he got a big ticket or something.
It sucks because I’m sure there are kids who want to go out and play, but because of speeding cars, it’s not safe. There are also 2 schools close to our house, so there will be kids and teens walking around. If they just put in a few speed humps here and there in order to , you know, manage the speed, then it would make it so much better.
While writing this article, we had a short disconnect. That’s a bit weird because our TV cable was cut, but our Internet is still connected. They are using different cables but I would think that if 1 broke, the other would too. I’m glad it’s still connected of course. Skycable said that it could take up to 5 days to come and fix it, which sucks, but whatever.
Well, here’s to hoping they’ll replace some of the speed humps. Just enough to be effective yet not be a pain. Also hoping Skycable will fix it soon, cause having flaky Internet isn’t fun.
Future plans for Internet in the Philippines
Over the past few years, a plan by Globe has been in the works. Is it for real, or just pie in the sky?
Globe and its partners in different countries are constructing a link between South East Asia and the States. It sounds like they really made sure everything goes right, avoiding earthquake-prone areas. They claim 100 Gbps, which is amazingly fast. We’re currently on 50 Mbps and it’s a huge upgrade from our old 5 Mbps connection. Comparing those, you can kinda see how significant an increase it is. Of course, whether or not consumers get that speed remains to be seen. I mean, right now, most computers now use 1 Gbps wired connectors so it’ll be a waste to get 100 Gbps.
Anyway, this would definitely be a step in the right direction for Internet here. It’s always PLDT at the top with Globe in second place, at least that’s how I see it. If Globe is trying to take the crown, then PLDT will of course retaliate. It will hopefully revamp the stagnant market. Pretty much all my friends use PLDT, I’m the only one who doesn’t. They’ve had good experiences with PLDT when it works, but when it doesn’t, oh man is it a problem. We used to have Globe, but they had their own problems. They were fairly reliable, but they had a cap of 10 GB per day. For us, that just wasn’t enough, so now we’re with Skycable, who have no caps. Actually, we had it better than a lot of Globe subscribers, cause they changed their policy to where you get, if I remember right, 15 GB per month on their highest plan. What if you exceed that cap? Hello, dial-up speeds (basically).
That’s really my big problem with Globe, they have unreasonable caps when their competitors don’t. I mean, you pay for 15 Mbps, but after a couple of days, that drops to a few hundred Kbps. Really unacceptable. I’m not sure if they plan on changing their plans with this new system, but if they don’t, it would be a huge waste. It’s 2016, we shouldn’t be held back by caps on our Internet anymore. The thing is though, a lot of people don’t care about the cap, they see the huge download speed and immediately think that’s good, and I think that’s why Globe still has caps. They figure that if they show a big number for download speed, people won’t notice the tiny number for usage.
Overall, I’m glad someone is finally doing something, but I’m kinda weary because it’s Globe. If they change up their plans and make them better, then I would be very happy. Hopefully, this move by Globe will prompt a response from PLDT and other ISPs. This will also hopefully make Fiber more widespread instead of the very limited areas you can get it right now.
My own personal Internet Future
As I have announced on this website, and also mentioned at the beginning of this article, after 2 decades in the Philippines, Feyma and I have decided to move back to the United States.
Over my nearly 2 decades here, I have seen the Internet in the Philippines mature greatly. I have gone from having a dial-up Internet to having reliable 100 Mbps fiber through PLDT. I am very happy with the Internet that I have here. If I can get the speed and reliability in the United States that I have here in the Philippines, I will be a happy man. I know a lot of friends in the USA who have Internet that is way worse than what I have in the Philippines.
Yep, Internet in the Philippines has improved a lot, right before my eyes.