As I’ve mentioned in the past, there always seems to be a lot of interest whenever I write about Internet speed and Internet providers here in the Philippines. In the past, I’ve used several different providers here, and each has advantages and disadvantages. Right now, I am kind of experiencing a “glut” of Internet, but I kind of like it.
What do I mean by a “glut”? Well, I mean that I have an oversupply of Internet connections! If it’s possible to have an “oversupply,” that is.
I wrote back at the beginning of August that I had found Internet Heaven here in the Philippines. Well, unfortunately, heaven was nice while it lasted, but after not too long a time, it kind of slipped down to purgatory instead of heaven.
Yes, when I wrote about being in Internet Heaven, I was talking about my new Internet Provider, SmartBro ShareIt. ShareIt is a service provided by Smart Broadband, which provides an Internet Connection of “up to” 2 Mbps, and utilizes 3.5G connectivity from the Cellular network of Smart Telecommunications. When I got ShareIt, I was extremely happy with the service. The speed was great, and everything seemed wonderful.
At the time I got SmartBro ShareIt, I already had two SmartBro Canopy systems here at the house. The SmartBro Canopy system is a different type of connectivity from Smart Broadband. This one puts an antenna on your house, which picks up connectivity from the Cellular tower near your house. The Canopy system is similar to ShareIt, but provides a connection of only “up to” 512 Kbps. I was pretty happy with the Canopy system, and had been using it for over a year already. My plan was that after I tested out the ShareIt system, I would cut off one of my Canopy accounts, then get a second ShareIt system, and cut off my other Canopy account, thus ending up with two SharIt systems.
I did go ahead and close one of my Canopy accounts, and nearly got the second ShareIt system. However, back around the beginning of September, I started having problems with ShareIt. The speed was still good, but it started happening that about one or up to two days per week, I had no signal on the ShareIt. On those days, my Canopy system still worked, so I still had Internet. But, if I had switched to two ShareIt systems, I would have been without Internet service at all, which is something I don’t want.
Another problem that I had found with ShareIt is that it did not work well at all with VOIP. Thus, my Vonage IP phone system worked terribly on ShareIt. Even though the speed was very fast, the VOIP just was terrible. I could hear the person on the other end fine, but they could not hear me well, lots of flutter in my outgoing signal. My previous experience with the SmartBro Canopy system was exactly the opposite, the person on the other end of the call said the connection was super, but on my end of the line, I was hearing only like half of what was being said! Hmm.. this just was not acceptable.
Prior to using SmartBro (either system), I had been a customer of PLDT DSL for about 7 years. I was always happy with the service until May 2008, when I started having billing issues with them. They kept cutting off my account. They said I didn’t pay my bill, even though I had receipts. When I showed my receipt, they would hook me up again, but it was a pain that I was cut off 3 times in one month! So, I switched.
Well, having the two SmartBro systems was pretty good, except that I was still unhappy with my VOIP situation. And, having a US phone number is important to me for personal and business needs. With this, Feyma and I decided to once again get a PLDT connection, which was installed on Saturday last weekend. So far, I am very happy with it! Funny thing is that it is the slowest of my three connections, yet it gives me the best VOIP experience by far. Also, the surfing “feels fast” as well, even though the connection is not as fast as it is supposed to be.
So, now I have three different Internet Connections, provided by two different providers. Just for clarity, though, PLDT owns Smart, so it could be said that all three connections are through the same provider, though. Given that I have these three connections, which each use a different technology, I decided to do some testing. Below, I will provide the testing results, and my thinking about each different connection.
All speed testing was done through Megapath’s speed testing service, at their San Francisco server. PLDT and Smart have their own speed testing, but I prefer to use a speed test that the provider does not control, and also I prefer a US based server, since I am more interested in the speed to the rest of the world, not just the speed between Davao and Manila. Speed tests were done 5 times, and a “middle” result was given for the result of the test.
I had the “Xperience” account, which is rated at “up to” 1Mbps. It is a DSL service through my phone line. Although PLDT does not offer any written speed guarantee, they told me that they promise 70% of the rated “up to” speed, so I should expect 700Kpbs at any given time.
Download Speed: 332Kbps
Upload Speed: 245Kbps
Works great for VOIP and downloads. Even though it is well below promised speed, I am pretty happy with the results. I will be asking for PLDT to do some “fine tuning” to see if they can’t get the speed up to where it should be, though. Even if it remains where it is, though, I am pretty happy with it. Speeds through the PLDT testing site are more up around 400 to 450Kbps, and that is the site that they will use for testing.
I’ve been using SmartBro’s Canopy system since May 2008, so almost a year and a half now, and have been pretty happy with it. My only real complaint is that it is not too great for VOIP.
Download Speed: 409Kbps
Upload Speed: 235Kbps
Rated speed is “up to” 512Kbps, and I often get speeds even a little faster than that. I suspect that the reason VOIP performance is not that good is because the latency is a bit higher than I would like.
I’ve been using SmartBro ShareIt for about 2 months now, and I am very happy with it, for some applications. When it comes to speed, it simply is unbeatable in my experience in the Philippines. However it just is not usable if you want to do VOIP. Also, it has been experiencing outages of up to 24 hours at a time regularly lately. Because of this, if you don’t have some backup connectivity, you are likely to be frustrated with ShareIt service.
Download Speed: 1.71 Mbps
Upload Speed: 417 Kbps
If I just want to surf the net, I want to use ShareIt every time! For downloading files, it’s great too. There is a podcast that I enjoy listening to everyday, which is a download of about 40 Mb each time I want to listen. The download time for that file is rarely more than 2 minutes. Not bad at all! But, for anything that requires upload too… ShareIt tends to suffer. VOIP is unusable.
For now, I’ve decided that I’ll be keeping all three connections, and using them for different things.
I have each of the three connections on a WiFi Network, so I actually have three different WiFi connections in my house!
Oh, what about the prices? Well, they all cost exactly the same amount – P999 per month. Having all three is not costly in my opinion – P3,000 per month, and I’ve got multiple connections, redundancy. I should have Internet access all the time, or at least close to all the time now with the redundancy that these three connections give me.
Addendum: I originally wrote this article about a week ago, but other events pushed it’s publication date back. During the time since I wrote the article, the flooding occurred in Manila. During the Manila flooding one Internet provider or another was down at almost any given time due to the weather, but through the entire crisis, I had Internet connectivity at all times because at least one of my three connections still worked. I must say that during the weather crisis the most reliable connection was the SmartBro Canopy system without a doubt.