As prices of USB modems tank and quality of the 3G/HSDPA infrastructure in the Philippines is aggressively perfected by competing communication giants, Smart and Globe as well as the new player, Sun Cellular, more attention has been drawn towards portable Internet as compared to traditional aDSL broadband trough phone lines. Even Sky Cable Internet is having trouble catching the public’s interest on it’s high speed data plan.
USB UMTS (3G)/HSDPA (faster 3G ^_^) modems costs less than two thousand pesos these days –P1,995 for Smart Bro and P1,895 for Globe Tattoo (formerly Globe Visibility). Both SmartBro and Globe Tattoo offers prepaid service at 20 pesos per hour. Globe has a more advantageous payment scheme, in a consumer’s point of view, charging 5 pesos for every 15 minutes while SmartBro charges 10 pesos for every 30 minutes.
On the post paid (plan) arena, Sun Broadband Wireless is undoubtedly the winner. Offering the only existing unlimited wireless 3G and 3.5G Internet plan at only P799 per month which also comes with waived USB modem fee, for plans with 24-month lock-in contract. You can even slash P150 from that if you also have a postpaid mobile phone subscription.
Globe Tattoo (Visibility) and SmartBro once launched it’s unlimited access plan costing around P1500 only to cancel it after upgrading their broadband infrastructure and expanding HSDPA coverage. Their 799 plan is still in effect giving subscribers 60 hours of internet access per month and 20 pesos per succeeding hour (per minute charging). It’s also worth noting that SmartBro offers portable wireless broadband access through it’s “Share-it” routers which is only available through plan subscribers and offers 90 hours monthly usage quota and P999 monthly rate. It does come with the industry standard 24-month lock-in period though which is not so practical yet considering the upcoming reintroduction of the unlimited plans.
Mobile Internet providers enjoy a greater coverage than their wired counterparts which can’t provide service to far flung barangays specially in the provinces like Southern Leyte. Among the three providers, Smart leads when it comes to service coverage. Of course when you’re a subsidiary of a telecommunications monopoly, you will definitely get the leading edge. Globe gives better service, in my opinion, in urban areas though. Sun Broadband Wireless is only limited to Metro Manila and the signal is not even that good.
Unlike wired Internet, the battle of supremacy between wireless broadband service providers is not easily won. It varies from location to location and of course the user’s specific needs. On some areas, specially those farther from trancieving towers, may experience intermittent connectivity. Highly saturated areas of service may also experience slow connection speeds and some may not even be covered by HSDPA or 3.5G which provides the optimum 2Mbps speed and rely only on paltry GPRS or Edge.
Until such time the major networks offer unlimited HSDPA access plan, I think it’s would still be better to stick to unlimited plans like SmartBro 999 and Globe Broadband, PLDT myDSL as well as BayanTel Broadband specially for the Facebook addicts, torrent pirates, bloggers and the online gaming gods. And oh, unlimited dial-up Internet not included.