More and more Filipinos have again gone wireless to connect to the internet. Recently, the three major wireless telcos have pushed down the cost of their wireless broadband modems or dongles to as low as P888 in a common effort to outsell competitors. The competition has gone so fierce that rivals Smart and Globe have come out with ads claiming their respective wireless broadband service is faster. Curiously, both did not include Sun in their ads.
Wireless broadband or mobile broadband is simply the provision of mobile internet access through modems or dongles, and through mobile phones as well. Instead of being connected via wirelines, wireless or mobile broadband makes full use of the GSM signals to connect a user to the internet. Speeds vary depending on what the telcos can provide in a particular area. Globe and Smart both claim to have 3G and 3.5G signals nationwide, while Sun has said it has completed its 3.5G rollout in Metro Manila.
For this initial post, let’s compare modem/dongle prices and internet rates:
|Globe Tattoo||SmartBro||Sun Broadband Wireless|
|Prepaid price of modems and dongles||P895||P995 (and P1,195 for those with special UAAP, NCAA designs)||P888|
|Prepaid rates||P5 for 15 minutes||P10 for 30 minutes||P10 for 30 minutes
P50 for 24 hours (through special card or OTA load)
|Prepaid reloading||Autoload Max, Call and Text Cards, Share-a-Load||E-Load, SmartBro cards, Pasaload||Xpressload, Sun Broadband Wireless Cards|
|Promised speeds||Up to 2 mbps (prepaid and postpaid)||Up to 2 mbps (prepaid and postpaid)||Up to 2 mbps (prepaid and postpaid Plans 799, 649), Up to 3 mbps (postpaid Plan 1399)|
|Claimed coverage||Nationwide (3G, HSDPA, EDGE or GSM)||Nationwide (3G, HSDPA, EDGE or GSM)||Metro Manila (3G, HSDPA, EDGE or GSM) and Nationwide (EDGE, GSM)|
|Postpaid rates and terms||Tattoo 499: P499 monthly fee w/ 45 hours mobile internet access of up to 2mpbs and 10 hours WIFI access at Globe WIZ hotspots. P0.33/minute beyond free hours. Standard credit checks. 24-months contract.|
Tattoo 999: P999 monthly fee w/ 100 hours mobile internet access of up to 2mpbs and unlimited WIFI access at Globe WIZ hotspots. P0.33/minute beyond free hours. Standard credit checks. 24-months contract.
Tattoo 1499: P1,499 monthly fee w/ 160 hours mobile internet access of up to 2mpbs and unlimited WIFI access at Globe WIZ hotspots. P0.33/minute beyond free hours. Standard credit checks. 24-months contract.
|Plan 799: P799 monthly fee w/ up to 80 hours internet access of up to 2mbps speeds. P10 per 30 minutes beyond free hours. Standard credit checks. 24-month contract.|
Plan 1500: P1,500 monthly fee for unlimited internet access up to 2mbps speeds. Standard credit checks. 24-month contract.
|Easy Broadband 799: P799 monthly fee for unlimited access up to 2mbps speeds. Advanced payment of two monthly fees required to get free modem. No credit checks. No contract.
SBW Plan 799 SIM Only: P799 monthly fee for unlimited access up to 2mbps speeds. No free modem. No credit checks. 6-month contract.
SBW Plan 799: P799 monthly fee for unlimited access up to 2mbps speeds with free modem. Standard credit checks. 24-month contract.
SBW Plan 649: P649 monthly on top of postpaid plan of current or new subscriber for unlimited access up to 2 mbps with free modem. No credit check if existing subscriber. Standard credit checks if new subscriber. 24-month contract.
SBW Plan 1399: P1399 monthly fee for unlimited access up to 3mbps speeds with free modem. Standard credit checks. 24-month contract.
|Important links||SmartBro Prepaid|
|Customer service||Dial 211 from a Globe mobile phone or 02-7301000 from a landline.||Dial *1888 from a Smart mobile phone or 02-6727277 from a landline.||Dial 333 from a Sun mobile phone or 02-3953333 from a landline.|
Prepaid modem price, rates and reloading
Sun Cellular offers the cheapest modem/dongle price at the moment, which is P888.
All three telcos charge an effective rate P20 per hour of mobile broadband access. The different is the minimum time to connect. The minimum for Smart and Sun is 30 minutes (P10) while Globe’s is 15 minutes (P5).
Very light users may find Globe a bit attractive but that is based only on the rate offers. Take note though that service issues (like proximity to cellsites and base stations, signal strength, available internet speeds and density of users in a particular area) may affect web surfing and may actually take someone a time longer than 15 minutes to check email.
Sun Cellular deserves praise for being the only telco that provides one-day, 24-hour unlimited mobile broadband access at just P50 a day for its prepaid subscribers.
Reloading prepaid modems and dongles is as easy as reloading cellphones. All three telcos have made available a variety of ways to conveniently reload via electronic load or scratch cards.
Globe and Smart obviously have an edge over Sun in terms of nationwide 3G and 3.5G coverage. But Sun is reportedly rolling out coverage outside of Metro Manila with subscribers independently claiming that they could get 3G and 3.5G signals already in parts of Bulacan and Cavite.
If you travel often outside of Metro Manila, you can choose between Globe and Smart. If you stay only often in Metro Manila and rarely go elsewhere, Sun is a wise choice.
To check which telco has a 3G signal in your place, just use a 3G phone, go to network settings and search for new networks. It will show you in a moment all the network signals that reach your house or office. Choose a telco with good coverage of places you usually go to.
The postpaid rates and services are varied and choosing one among them depends on your internet habits.
For example, Globe Tattoo may attract those relatively light to medium users only because there’s no plan that provides unlimited internet. Access to Globe WIZ looks like a consolation prize. Those who wish to opt for Globe Tattoo prepaid should check if they are often near or at Globe WIZ hotspot so they can take full advantage of this offer.
Add a peso to Globe’s Plan 1499 (which provides for 60 hours mobile internet access and unlimited Globe WIZ access), Smart can already give you unlimited mobile internet access but with no complimentary AirborneAccess privileges.
Metro Manila users who want a unlimited postpaid mobile broadband at faster speeds should avail of Sun’s Plan 1399 which promises speeds of up to 3 mbps. Only this plan and telco has offered unlimited mobile internet at that speed. Globe and Smart can only provide up to 2 mbps to both prepaid and postpaid subscribers.
Globe and Smart are apparently still stingy in offering and approving applications for postpaid Globe Tattoo and SmartBro accounts. Sun Cellular has taken advantage of this by offering the widest choices for postpaid subscribers.
Globe and Smart has stiff requirements for those who wish to apply for postpaid Globe Tattoo and postpaid SmartBro: Minimum of P10,000 monthly salary, proof of billing, a landline number and IDs – practically the same for mobile phone service applications.
Sun Cellular also has these requirements for its only high-end Plan 1399 and for their Standard Plan 799. But it has also made available an Easy Broadband 799 Plan which requires only the submission of one ID and the advanced payment of two monthly service fees, and without any contract. Those already with a modem or dongle can also avail of the SBW 799 SIM Only Plan – again without a long list of requirements and with a short contract of just six months. These two plans are arguably the two most convenient and downright most affordable postpaid plans for mobile broadband. Current Sun mobile postpaid subscribers can get an even lower rate of P649 a month if they add a Sun Broadband Wireless subscription to their account.
Based solely on their announced rates and services, the wisest choice for Metro Manila is Sun Broadband Wireless, whether prepaid or postpaid. Its P888 modem price is already a steal. Heavy prepaid users can enjoy unlimited internet for just P50 a day. The Easy Broadband 799 meanwhile is the best postpaid offering in the metropolis for providing unlimited internet for just P799 a month, and for having no cumbersome credit checks and long list of requirements.
For the highly mobile Metro Manilans who go out of the metropolis often and those who live elsewhere in our archipelago, the best choice appears to be Smart prepaid and postpaid.
[Watch out for Part 2!]