Internet Service in Tigbauan, Iloilo

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A few notes on the quality of Internet service available in Tigbauan, Iloio.  We have tried the following.  The fees are monthly and generally for unlimited use.  Actually there are “fair use” limits which you are unlikely to exceed unless you are downloading movies.  You will be locked into a contract, generally for two years, although with the Smart Pocket WiFi you can buy the device and load it as you see fit with no contract.

  1. “SmartBro” wireless Internet.  Roof mounted antenna.  P999 for “up to 2MBS”.  See
  2. “WiMax” available from Globe Telecom. P999 for “up to 1MPS” See
  3. Smart 3G Cellular Internet using the Smart Pocket WiFi Plan. P999 for up to 7.2MPS See

Our most recent experiment was buying and using a Smart Pocket WiFi receiver.  This is a small device which looks something like a cellphone and costs P2,000 to buy.  It combines a 3G-capable receiver and a wireless router in a small battery operated package.  There is also a plug in charger.  We were prompted to give this a try because we were frustrated by the other two options which used roof mounted antennas and gave us about 1MPS speed, at best.

A friend of ours from Iloilo City had just bought a new Galaxy S4 cellphone.  While visiting us at our house, he was surprised to see that we had Smart 3G cellular service in Tigbauan.  Most rural places have 2G at best. Our friend ran a test on which showed a 3MPS download speed — three times better than we were getting with Globe WiMax.  So we went to the Smart Telecom store at SM City, bought the Pocket WiFi device and a five day load to allow us to test the connection.  That night we were astounded to have a 6MPS 3G Internet connection! Hallelujah!

Smart Pocket Hotspot Speedtest

Now for the bad news.  As a practical matter, we do see better speeds, especially with YouTube and other videos which are generally un-watchable on our 1MPS WiMax service.  On the other hand, the Pocket WiFi is less consistent, sometimes failing to connect at all.

We tested the device using an iPad, a Nokia Lumia Windows Phone wi-fi  and our regular laptop and desktop computers. The Pocket WiFi service was sometimes fast but balky and inconsistent, even though it scored very well on several Internet speed test sites.  Perhaps those more technically inclined can help us understand why 3-6MPS 3G is not always faster than 1MPS WiMax.  Reader Dan makes the point (below) that the local connection may be fast but the available Internet bandwidth to connect to foreign servers is capacity restricted.

An advantage of the Pocket WiFi is that it is battery operated and can supply Internet access during power outages, whereas our Globe WiFi modem and router can’t operate without power.  If you keep the Pocket WiFi device’s charger plugged in, you’ll always have about four hours of Internet access during the outage.

We have unplugged our Globe WiMax and will give the Pocket WiFi a multi-day trial and then report back.

Smart Pocket Hotspot

Smart Pocket Hotspot – just about actual size

Now back to our previous experiences with Internet access in Tigbauan.  Bear in mind that some of our experiences are somewhat dated.  Service may have improved.

Both Globe and Smart wired DSL may be available in parts of Tigbauan. Since we built our home in a place without telephone lines, wired DSL is not an option for us.

When we lived in Iloilo City we had Globe 1MPS DSL. The quality was not especially good. Sometimes we’d get the 1MPS, but often the service was slow and unreliable. When we moved to an apartment in Tigbauan we used PLDT’s SmartBro wireless broadband, the kind with an antenna on the roof pointed at a base station on the nearest Smart cell tower. We were surprisingly happy with SmartBro. It was not fast. We had the “999” plan which gives us unlimited Internet access at “up to” 384K for P999 per month. It’s was not suitable for streaming video or large downloads but works pretty well for routine web browsing, downloads and VOIP. It was reliable, more reliable than our Globe 1MPS DSL which rarely reached anything like 1MPS and often just stalled out loading pages.

Smart cell tower in Tigbauan with SmartBro base stations circled

Smart cell tower in Tigbauan with SmartBro base stations circled

That was until we built and moved into our new house. We checked with PLDT before we bought our Tigbauan property about the availability of PLDT’s “SmartBro”. Our property was quite close to the Smart cell tower, but for some reason the SmartBro service at the new house has been lousy, much worse than at our Tigbauan apartment. It seems to be getting worse, despite many complaints to Smart and promises that it would be fixed. According to Smart representative there are problems with the base station antenna on the Smart tower. VOIP is virtually unusable, streaming video only a dream. Finally we gave up on SmartBro at our new house and signed up for Globe 1MB WiMax service. It has it’s problems too, but generally VOIP is usable, a key factor for us.

The Globe sign-up process was an adventure. Globe’s WiMax site prominently offers a thirty day trial period on WiMax. The Globe staff seemed unaware of this policy, some saying that it only applied in Manila. We had to call Manila to convince the Globe Iloilo staff that the satisfaction guarantee applied to Iloilo.

We had signed a two year contract with Smart and they were not anxious to let us out of it. Initially they did not approve our request to cancel the contract. Then they asked us to write a description of why we wanted out of the contract. We had saved proof of poor connection quality in the form of screen-shots from and had documented our numerous complaints to Smart. We put this together in the form of a letter to Smart’s vice president for network quality and delivered the letter to the Smart office at SM City Iloilo. We said we’d mail the letter documenting Smart’s lousy service to Smart HQ in Makati if our contract cancellation request was not approved. Three days later we received a call saying our request had been approved. Hopefully Smart will resolve their problems.

Smart Telecom technician with SmartBro rooftop antenna

Smart Telecom technician with SmartBro rooftop antenna

Mounting the SmartBro wireless Internet antenna, Tigbauan, Iloilo

Mounting the SmartBro wireless Internet antenna, Tigbauan, Iloilo.  The antenna is pointed toward a Smart cell tower.  The towers are equipped with special wifi transceivers.  The system works best if you’re within one kilometer of a Smart cellular tower.

Here’s the results measured on my SmartBro connection very early in the morning at our Tigbauan apartment — not bad!

Here’s a result at our new house.  A dial-up modem would be an improvement:

Smart's SmartBro service at our new house

Smart’s SmartBro service at our new house

Globe WiMax Huawei BM 622i Modem

Globe WiMax Huawei BM 622i Modem

This is the Huawai BM622i modem supplied by Globe for WiMax service.  Normally it’s connected to an outside antenna via a cable but we are so close to the Globe cell tower providing the service that we have 100% signal strength using the internal antenna in the Huawai. Now that we’ve solved the DNS connectivity problems, we’re happy with the Globes service.  We just made a long call to the U.S. using Google Voice.  The call was free and the quality good.  At first we were getting about .75MB download speeds but that has declined to about .35MB.

Also note that the Huawai has a port for a telephone.  Once Globe gets around to upgrading its service in Tigbauan, they’ll be able to offer a wireless “landline” service.  That will be great for us because there is no landline service where we live.  However we note no such improvements in the three years we have had the Globe service.

For details on how we solved our DNS server problems, see: /globe-internet-dns-problems/

Comments (22) Write a comment

  1. Hi Bob,
    In regards to internet and “WiFi”, while I was In Manila at the beginning of the month, I had for the week I stayed there a huge variation,of very fast speed for download of 2Mbps+ consistently and sharing the connection to frequent drop-outs. Finally figured out that it was time of day, due to users. Although advertised, never found a 4G signal, so it was a H+ only.
    Now in Iloilo – near Barotac Nuevo and BGA. Bante i only get a couple of bars next to the window, where I leave the mobile phone to act as a wifi hotspot.

    Problem is capacity. The more users you have logged on at the same time, the less bandwidth is left for everyone.

    So since it is the same price per month as the USB device, why should you get a pocket wifi, if you have a spare CP with android 2.2/2.3+ that can act as your wifi hotspot 😉 plus you can make calls if needed. All you need to do is send unli299 for a week or unli999 for a month to 211 on smart, and you can put it at the best location in your house to have more bars.:)

    Those are my 5 centimo or centavo or cents… at least.


    • Oh yes, I think Windows Mobile also has internet sharing.

      On another note, upload speed seems to be similar to dial-up… and if you have 1 person uploading pics, the download also suffers… Just thought to let your readers be aware of that.


  2. Bob I believe the reason for such poor service in the Philippines is upstream aggregation. Even if your local speed is high, there’s not enough “pipe” upstream to support the demand, especially for downloading international content.


    • Dan, thanks for you reply. Your explanation makes perfect sense. When I do my speed tests to local (Philippine) servers I might get 6MBS but when I do a speed test to Virginia I will get the same 1 or 1.5MPS I would get using non-3G wireless Internet such as our Globe WiMax. What still puzzles me the the inconsistency of the 3G Internet. Sometimes it seems quite fast, other times it won’t connect at all. Now we have both the 3G service and our 1MPS Globe WiFi. We’ll try the 3G for a few more weeks and then decide which to stick with. One nice thing about the 3G is that we don’t lose it during power failures and we can take the pocket wi-fi with us when travelling. Bob


      • Bob, I was at the Smart office in SM City and asked why the speed is so inconsistent. Just when I pin down a good time for a good speed to download my iTunes subscription of TV shows and movies, the speed changes. I have lived in two hotels for an extended period (way over six months) and the speed changes drastically. A TV show of 600 MB (Standard Definition) usually takes me an hour to download on a good day, then drastically to 6 hours to 12 + hours and deteriorates from there day-to-day. This is my only complain with them every month. Well, one customer service rep one day told me that the Philippines has a Fair Usage Policy imposed by NTC (I don’t know who this is, but I’m gathering the National TeleComm agency). She said that after downloading 20+ gigs a month, the speed slows down when it reaches the limit!!

        Sure enough, I keep track of my downloading activities and my speed deteriorates after 20 or so GBs of download and when the first of month rolls in, I’m back to the good speed of 40 to 60 minutes a TV show. Have you heard of the Fair Usage Policy? It sure sucks since I love to download my movies and shows to enjoy during my leisure. Let


        • Hi Let,

          Yes, we have had exactly the same experience. Many Philippine ISPs do this, at least with the basic plans. Perhaps in other places with faster connections there are higher caps. We have not been downloading movies lately but I was really worried when I had to download upgrades from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1. The only way to do this is with a 4 to 6GB download from Microsoft. I would have to let the download run all night and well into the next day. I had to do this twice to upgrade two computers, so a total of 8-12GB plus our regular usage. I was afraid of getting throttled but was not. The ISPs are trying to serve too many customers with minimal Internet bandwidth. Throttling is one way they stretch their capacity.

          Bob and Carol


  3. To: Peter M, Bob, and To Whom It May Concern.
    Ref: Antenna height. I moved here at San Pablo City, Laguna, deep in the province area. Globe told me a slightly different excuse as far as the 10′ pole height. If I needed more height to get coverage, I had to provide the additional pole myself. They said I needed an additional 20-25 feet to go over the trees. I did the old “boy scout” measuring with a pen vertically and horizontally to measure the height that I needed to go over the trees . Globe only provided 50’ cablel to run from the antenna to the modem. I needed a minimum of 23-25 feet height. I used two 10ft pipe, 2 ” diameter and welded end to end to get 20′ plus the 10′ that Globe provided. I used 3 hose clamp to secure the Globe provided pole to the 2′ pipe, around 2 feet. I used a pressure washer to make a hole approx 4-5″ wide and 2′ deep in the ground. It was quite heavy to raise the combined 3 poles and it took 5 of us to raise the pole and put the end into the ground. I clamped the pole to the roof fascia and used safety wires as guy wires. Be very careful because it is really top heavy. Mine almost toppled over a few times and the helpers really had to hang on to prevent it from toppling over. Imagine trying to raise a 30′ flag pole. It was slightly harder than I had expected but we were all determined. The hard part was trying to get everyone to physically coordinate our movements together in English and Tagalog. Once the pole is in the ground, it is super heavy to turn and align the antenna with the Globe cell. To solve this, I drilled a hole through the pipe, approx 2′ above the ground level and stuck a left over rebar approx 2′ long through the hole. This gave me enough leverage to turn the pole after dropping it in the hole. It Worked perfectly. We’ve had a few storms and it held it pretty well. No problem at all.
    As far as the law states about pole limit, well you know by now that “there is very little “law enforcement” around here. You can just about get away with anything. I doubt it very much if you will have a patrol going around and measuring the pole heights. Now, if I can just get Globe to improve their technical side. PS: Bob, I just checked last month and Philippines is now lower and down to 178 out of 200 countries. I guess it wouldn’t be so bad if Globe didn’t promote that they have the best internet service in the country. Thank you all again everyone’s shared input.
    J. Amore


    • Many thanks for posting your antenna story. I can just imagine how hard it must have been to raise that 2″ pipe! I suspect that if we were charged by the actual bandwidth we receive, Philippine providers must be among the most expensive as well as the slowest.


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  5. The problem we have is that the government has brought in a new law that limits the height of antennas to 10 feet. Because our house is not neat a cell tower we have or rather had a 40 foot antenna to get a wireless internet signal.

    As our internet contract has reached the end of the two year contract Global has now taken down the antenna leaving us with no internet as a 10 foot antenna could not get an adequate signal. I hope we can find a solution to our internet problem in the future but it may take some time!


    • That’s a very sad story. Can you try SmartBro? How about those USB dongles. They are slow but at least provide some Internet access. Anyway, good luck.


  6. I’ve got the Smartbro pre paid plug in and when I was living in Barotac Nuevo near the tower I was constantly being cut off and the signal was choppy.

    Now we live about 10 kilometers from there towards Iloilo and although farther from the tower the signal strength is four or five bars. But the problem is during the day between school runs when so many users bombard the bandwidth with so much usage we often get cut every few minutes. At night after midnight when most finally go to sleep I can download large files without interruption or problems. Any other time will make anyone smash their Smart bro plug in module against a concrete wall. It’s so frustrating to try to email a simple small email during the days.


    • I’ve used one of those USB SmartBros. They are handy when traveling but not good for regular use. Can you get the regular SmartBro with the roof mounted antenna or the Globe WiMax?


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  8. Same boat some problem! I have had problems for nearly 3 months with the antenna I have installed. Eventually climbing up and fixing it myself. But for a country striving to be the BPO capital of the world how can it manage it without basic infrastructure?

    I can understand the issues of poor internet due to the island setup but I live in Cebu and its not exactly in the wilderness yet this year have heard of more people having problems that have been subscribers for some time. Is the service being cut back to save money is the real question as “capping” was on the cards and I know in the UK ISPs illegally cap all the time without most people realising so here its more likely.


    • Globe punishes you if you use more than 25gig per month with their supposed 1M unlimited service which is actually 100K at best. The punishment is a 30k cap until you behave.


  9. Hi Bob, its me again Rex from california, thanks for the advice about the door to door cargo, i have sent the first package last month and it should get there on the 12th of feb. Anyway i need to know if you can recomend any internet cafe for my friend to use around barrio barroc, he never use a computer in his life and I’m a little frustrated with the communication issue, we talk via cell ph. and its hard for him because of the cell load it get expensive. I want to teach him how to use the internet but he needs to find an internet cafe first. Is there any around the area?


  10. I came across this chart listing the ten top countries in the world for broadband speed – the Philippines as the 78th in the world for broadband speed.

    Top Countries by Download Speed

    1. 23.84 Mb/s Korea, Republic of
    2. 17.01 Mb/s Japan
    3. 16.43 Mb/s Aland Islands
    4. 15.99 Mb/s Latvia
    5. 14.64 Mb/s Romania
    6. 14.46 Mb/s Lithuania
    7. 14.37 Mb/s Sweden
    8. 13.73 Mb/s Netherlands
    9. 13.38 Mb/s Bulgaria
    10. 12.92 Mb/s Andorra
    11. 11.79 Mb/s Moldova, Republic of
    12. 10.34 Mb/s Hong Kong
    13. 10.18 Mb/s Portugal
    14. 9.98 Mb/s Slovakia

    **78. 2.52 Mb/s Philippines**

    That 2.52 Mb/s for the Philippines is three times faster than my SmartBro connection in Tigbauan!


  11. We’ll be retiring in Miagao starting February. Do you know or can you recommend a good value internet service provider in that area?


    • These are educated assumptions only. Much will depend exactly where you are. If you are on or near the National Highway, you may be able to get wired DSL starting at about P1,000 per month. If you are further out you can probably get SmartBro wireless Internet — sort of like WiMax — for the same cost. If you are too far out, too far from a Smart cell tower, you may struggle to get any Internet. When you get the real information, please post it here.

      Good luck!



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