This is the topic, which often comes back with questions, like a boomerang.
The truth is that today most of the people cannot imagine their life without internet connection. Doesn’t matter whether it is work, playing games, staying in touch with family and friends – we use internet. Well, bad news here – internet in the Philippines doesn’t work well and for sure that is not quality we know from European or American countries.
When I came here I thought it is like that because Siquijor is the small island, and now I’m sure that is general issue. There are only two network operators in the Philippines and, simply, their capacity is not sufficient to manage huge network traffic. I remember at the beginning I was not able to find stable internet. It took ages to upload short movie or good quality pictures. Today it seems to be better with internet stability, however speed can reach maximum several mb/s only.
Planning your visit in the Philippines, just be prepared for this. All in all you can manage.
Anybody who wants to purchase local SIM card first has to choose between two local network providers: Globe or Smart. Both sell very cheap starter kit, its price shouldn’t exceed 50 peso (about 4 PLN/1 Euro). And below, I’m sharing my knowledge and experience regarding both.
Globe – www.globe.com.ph
This provider is perceived as the best it terms of network coverage; nevertheless it may depend on the region. Generally each small and big shop sells Globe starters and offers top-ups. Globe SIM cards are available there in any format: mini, micro and nano, so it doesn’t matter what kind of mobile you have.
General Globe’s offer regarding internet connection is following:
- SIM card top-up of 1000 peso (about 80 PLN/18 euro) plus SuperSURF service.
These ensure unlimited internet access for 30 days. There is also defined number of text messages and few minutes included to the package. In practice, that solution seems to be good for mobile phones only. Laptop paired via hotspot makes the connection terribly unstable and data transfer decreases to absolute minimum, which doesn’t allow download most of the websites.
I have been using Globe SIM card for over a year and every time while working with my laptop I had to reset mobile phone few times per hour to get connected to the Globe network again and restore internet connection.
- PocketWIFI purchase (unless you bring the device without SIMLOCK with you from your country).
Device ensures internet connection both for mobile phone and laptop. The advantage over the first solution is that this one allows few people to get connected the same time. Also, in case of weak signal, which happens regularly, you can place the device in better spot nearby, also outside the house, and continue working staying connected wireless.
- Signing contract with Globe.
That is option for those, who consider longer stay in the Philippines, because minimum contract length is 2 years. Monthly fee, depending on bandwidth would be 1200 up to 2000 peso. Globe provides typical router, which gets signal from transmitters, as in two previous cases, and we simply use wireless connection.
Interestingly in case of this service there is 40GB data limit monthly, however after router reset data usage calculation starts from the beginning. I’ve tested this few times and it seems to work like that.
Smart – www.smart.com.ph
Two years ago, when I came to Siqujor, there was only one transmitter on the island and sending even simple text message was hardly possible, so everyone advised me against Smart. Today it is much better and honestly speaking Smart doesn’t differ much from Globe.
What do they offer?
- SIM card top-up of 995 peso for 30 days. This package ensures 800 MB data per day. Maximum data transfer speed I reached was 2 mb/s, but it is quite enough for one person. The advantage over Globe comes from connection stability – it is definitely better and doesn’t cause any problems.
- I have decided for this solution over a week ago and have to say it works perfectly so far. I also use laptop frequently and limit of 800MB data daily is completely sufficient.
Of course it doesn’t allow downloading huge files, like movies, but that was not priority for me.
This solution doesn’t require signing contract with provider. You just go to Smart showroom and pay 850 peso for the device including SIM card and 350 MB data to be used within 3 months.
- 2 years contract, which seems to be not a perfect one. There is 6,5MB (!) data limit and 800 peso fee monthly. Also seller was not able to answer my questions regarding this offer like he was never spent a minute thinking about…
Wired internet? Of course exists, however in big cities mainly.
I don’t know exact provider’s offer; in terms of prices and quality it may be similar.
Generally speaking for the last 2 years I haven’t met in the Philippines anybody who was hundred percent happy with good and stable internet connection. That’s the reality.
By the way, there is one more interesting, “internet-related” thing: there are plenty of Internet Cafes around, even in the small village you can find at least one. That doesn’t mean these places offer better internet connection. What’s more, half of them are not connected at all. There are computers and locals usually go there to play games.
I do hope I was able to give you general view how to survive here and do not resign from internet surfing and staying in touch with the world.