- Internet & the Web
Smart Bro, Globe WiMAX or PLDT MyDSL: broadband internet services review and recommendation
Globe, Smart, Sun, PLDT, Bayantel, or other telcos
In this age of the internet, when almost everything can be done online, when Facebook, Twitter and YouTube had replaced television and other media as source of entertainment and news, when the source of and access to information have been democratized (through blogging and engagement in social media) and with the power available to almost anyone right on their fingertips, broadband service becomes an outright necessity to modern households.
Therefore, that power referred to above, i.e. the access to or being the source of information, being right on our fingertips, is of course dependent on the speed and reliability of our internet connection.
From our personal experiences that was first told in a comparison of broadband service installation procedures among the big three: Smart, Globe and PLDT, experiences of friends and acquaintances, as well as feedback from bloggers and readers alike, I deem that it's about time to put an opinion forward to help those who are trying to decide which subscription is best for them. Therefore, in this hub, I am putting my recommendations based on the above sources of information and personal preferences.
Do we really have a choice?
This question had to be addressed as anyone who has tried to make sense out of the overwhelming amount of information that involved many variables about the broadband services being offered in the Philippine market, still came to the conclusion that no telecommunication company has clearly led the pack that would have somehow made decision-making faster and easier. In fact, I had to go through three of them during my own search and it turned out that the final outcome was not really based on preference but more on circumstances of our location.
When you list the most important reason(s) for getting broadband service, the choices become a bit clearer and then a decision can be arrived at. I would like to guide you through the process I would take if I were to subscribe to an internet service again.
Primary Reason for Broadband Service Subscription
The foremost question to answer is "why do you want to subscribe to a broadband internet service?" Is it for business (internet cafe, online work, blogging, etc.) or personal use (social media, news, chat, skype)? How often would you use it? How much time do you spend online? Is mobility or mobile access important to you?
If mobility or mobile access is a major factor, then your choices would boil down to the WIRELESS plug it products being offered such as Smart Bro Plug It, Globe Tattoo and Sun Broadband Plug It, which I really don't recommend for those who are after speed.
Access through your cellular phone with 3G technology is a poor choice in terms of speed, stability and reliability. So unless you have lots of patience and no choice but to rely on cellular phone signal for internet access because of circumstances like location, you're much better off ignoring this option. It's really beyond frustrating!
Wired versus Wireless Broadband Services
Compared to mobile internet services, stationary broadband products are so much better, particularly in terms of speed of course. You have a choice between recent technological advances, like WiMAX, for wireless broadband service and the good-old wired service offered by landline telephone and cable TV companies as they're the ones that have the infrastructure to offer such as service. Actually I found out from the subcontractor who installed our PLDT myDSL connection that new subscriptions to landline telephone service is mostly due to broadband internet service needs of new customers. In the Philippines, the landline phone has lost its appeal ever since Filipinos embraced texting and cellular phone use as the main avenue to communicate. Thus by packaging (bundle) the landline service with the broadband service that is in demand, PLDT got a new subscriber out of me,
The popularity of internet subscription has led PLDT to come up with a new product, the PLDT TelPad, that revolutionized landline phones by integrating it with Android Tablet technology.
The leading telecom companies in the wireless broadband internet service segment in the Philippines are the cellular phone giants, Smart and Globe. While the oldest telecom company PLDT and smaller ones like Bayantel offer the wired broadband service. I don't have a personal experience with wired broadband subscription through cable television companies (as Mama Sez and I have decided long ago that television watching would be minimized in our household), so I will not cover this option here. I also feel that the latter got a very small segment of the market and in the few times I tried surfing in friends' homes, the speed was disappointing.
Let me outline below the pros and cons of wired and wireless stationary broadband services in the Philippines.
The Cons for Wireless Broadband Service
- dependent on strength of signal, thus may become unstable or unreliable if signal is disrupted by unforeseen events like strong winds or typhoon
- device needs to be installed on the roof (in our case was a problem as our landlady did not want structures on the roof)
- certain locations have no signal (even in a neighborhood with strong signal, there can still be dead spots)
The Pros for Wireless Broadband Service
- fast installation (1-2 days after application versus weeks of waiting for PLDT)
- generally more professional customer service (compared to PLDT's reputation of poor customer service), though there's a lot of room for improvement
In fact, these are the main reasons why we decided to prioritize wireless stationary broadband subscription: Globe WiMAX first and then SmartBro, before ending up with wired service with PLDT.
The Cons for Wired Broadband Service
- more hassles in the initial phase like longer application process (with required preliminary inspection)
- poor customer service (elaborated in an earlier blog post about PLDT representatives)
The Pros for Wired Broadband Service
- service is not dependent on signal strength, thus more stable and reliable
- speed is more consistent or does not vary much between peak and off-peak hours (which a problem with wireless services)
The above "cons" refers to our experience with PLDT. So these may not be as bad with newer companies offering wired broadband service. In fact before transferring to Laguna, we were satisfied with our Bayantel subscription in Davao City in both internet access speed and customer service, including installation that only required about one week instead of three weeks for PLDT. Landline phone was also bundled with broadband service (speed of 0.512 mbps only).
I am not focusing on comparing maximum speed in this article as our needs are satisfied with speed of around 0.7 mbps. Check other sites if you are interest in speedtest comparisons.
If you spend a lot of time online and don't want to be frustrated by slow speed and inconsistent service, I recommend that you apply to PLDT for a wired broadband service. We have had eight months of more or less uninterrupted service and the speed (0.768 mbps) is enough for our blogging needs and online surfing.
The downside of PLDT subscription may be alleviated if a competitor like Bayantel is available in your area. So check first to see if there's an alternative where you're located. Unfortunately, PLDT is the only choice for us right now, as the competitor Digitel's internet service was outright rejected due to speed and reliability issues.
While I dare to put out a recommendation, here are some caveats. Of course, you have to do due diligence yourself in taking my recommendation, i.e. with consideration of your own special circumstances and requirements, particularly location, needs and expectations.
Remember that with PLDT, you had to be patient with the application and installation process and to lower your expectations when it comes to customer service. In fact, I have came up with some tips on how to avoid PLDT's poor customer service, but have also written an open letter to PLDT and other telecom companies about putting customer service first.
Please let me know what you think and also share your own experience in the comment section below. Best of luck on your hunt for broadband internet service. May you find what's best for you!