Finally, good… no, scratch that… great internet in the Philippines!
When I first moved to where I live now, I was so happy when I was able to get 5 Mbps DSL, I was in heaven. Then, a year and a half ago, when I got 6 Mbps Cable Internet, I thought I’d never beat that in the Philippines. I recently found out how wrong I was!
Long Term Evolution – LTE
It all started out a few weeks back. I had just gotten my Cable Internet account cut off because the service was not very reliable. I grew tired of it not working as expected, so I decided that I would just use a Globe or Smart 3G USB Stick as a backup for my DSL account, which is on Globe. The 3G speeds are terribly slow, but my DSL account is pretty reliable, so I hoped I would not need to use the 3G often. Right about that time, I started hearing that LTE (Long Term Evolution) Internet may be available in Davao. Previously, I had heard that it was not available here. I started doing research, though, and found that indeed it was available, and it was even available in my neighborhood.
I started researching into it heavily, and found websites showing LTE speeds in Davao. They showed speed tests of 10 Mbps to 20 Mbps in my neighborhood. I was elated! Within 24 hours after seeing that, I went to Smart at SM and inquired about it. They looked on the computer and told me that LTE was not available in my area. “How could it be,” I thought to myself, I had seen the speed tests that were conducted right in my neighborhood? Well, I decided to just go ahead and get the LTE because I was nearly 100% certain that they were wrong. As it turned out, they didn’t know what they were talking about, the LTE worked fine in my neighborhood!
I purchased a Smart Pocket WiFi unit for P4,888. This is a small unit that looks like a cellular phone, but really it is a WiFi Router that connects to the Smart LTE Network. Took it home, and it worked great in my neighborhood! I tested the speed and was getting results of 10 Mbps to 20 Mbps depending on time of day. More often I was at 10 Mbps, but that was fine with me, because it was way better than I had before.
Things have gotten much better now
Here is the path that I followed and where I am today.
1. Better make sure there is LTE coverage in your area. If you have an LTE capable cellphone you could just buy an LTE SIM and use your phone to test coverage in your neighborhood. If you don’t, maybe you know somebody who has such a phone.
2. Provided that there is coverage in your area, go buy a Smart Prepaid LTE Pocket Wifi unit. It is P4,888 and will give you WiFi access for up to 10 devices in your home. I had trouble finding such a unit in Davao, but finally found it at 8Telecom in the SM Annex in Ecoland. When I was there they had about 4 of them. Make sure you get the latest generation pocket wifi that will do LTE. This unit will come with everything you need to get going on LTE.
3. Do not get a postpaid plan with Smart. If you do, they have data caps on LTE. Just go with prepaid. When you have your Prepaid Pocket WiFi, it will come with free 7 days unlimited use. After you use up your 7 days, just load P1,000 load on the SIM card. After you have loaded, text “LTE 995″ to 2200. Once they activate that, it usually takes only a few seconds, you will have unlimited use for 30 days. Just do that every month to continue your unlimited LTE.
Now, what I described above is exactly what I did 2 weeks ago. Since then I have been researching into LTE a bit more. I was getting speeds of 10 Mbps minimum, up to 25 Mbps or so. My average at all times of the day was 12 to 15 Mbps, I would say. I learned through my research that you can get an external antenna on your LTE and that will give you much faster speed. The Pocket WiFi router, though, cannot have an external antenna. Because of this, I decided to buy a different router, which I had to order over the Internet. The cost of that router was P4,299. I also bought an external antenna for P950. So, total cost was P5,249. The new router will work with the external antenna, which is why I bought it.
Now, with the new setup, I am getting speeds of 20 Mbps minimum, up to 35 Mbps at times. It’s really great.
When I did the things above, my antenna was just outside hooked to the wall, only about 8 feet off the ground. I knew that I could get better results if I raised my antenna higher.
Yesterday, my niece and two of my sons went and bought a 40 foot piece of bamboo. We put up the bamboo with the antenna on top. Immediately, my router went from 3 bars of LTE signal strength to 5 bars (the maximum). My speed tests? Well, I was getting speeds from the mid-40s up to 52 Mbps! Amazing! Upload speeds in the 20 Mbps range were also common. Ping times of 30 ms or so. That is great speed for anywhere in the world, and unheard of in the Philippines. I have a couple of friends who are also getting LTE speeds in Davao of 35 to 50 Mbps, so my results are not really a fluke.
By the way, any idea on how much a 40 foot bamboo pole cost me? P160. Can you believe that? Best P160 I ever spent!
What about Brownouts?
So, I have this extra Pocket WiFi, since I bought that extra router. I was thinking of selling it, but I reconsidered. The thing is, the pocket WiFi is battery operated, so it works during brownouts. Even if there is no electricity, with my laptop and my LTE pocket WiFi, I have full speed internet access. Also, if it is brownout, or for any other reason, I can just take my laptop and my pocket LTE WiFi unit to Starbucks or some other coffee shop, and I can surf or work at fast Internet Speeds in air conditioned comfort! It is great, and much faster than the Internet that they have at any of the coffee shops.
So, I am happy to be able to say that there is now Excellent Internet here in the Philippines. It’s not expensive either! Speeds rival Internet speeds anywhere in the world! I’m a happy camper!