In our introduction to the broadband market in the Philippines, we presented your different options to access broadband. As the market progresses, more broadband providers will join, offering a variety of broadband plans, at different prices. This can be confusing and we might end up paying too much for something we do not want. This two-step guide will help you understand what your broadband plan should give you, so you can find a broadband provider which offers the best fit for these needs and at the right price.
Step 1: Understand What You Need
The first important decision you must make is whether you want to be able to access broadband at home, on the go or both.
Home broadband is what most of us think of when we look for broadband. A router is installed at your home and in most cases, you access fast internet via DSL or Fibre. If these are not available, LTE routers are also an alternative as offered by Globe and Smart. If you wish to access high-speed internet in your home so that you do not have to use your mobile data to stay connected, this is what to go with. You also have the possibility of going online with your laptop, tablet or a gaming console like a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One X. Home broadband will give you large download volumes and very high download speeds.
Mobile broadband uses portable WiFi routers with an LTE connection. They allow you to access the internet with multiple devices, for example smartphones, tablets or laptops from any place with a mobile internet connection. This will allow you to browse the web, work, update your facebook or watch videos while you are on the run and out of reach of any WiFi networks. Opting for this can make sense if you need mobile data for your own or multiple laptops while on the go. It allows you to separate this data usage from your smartphone mobile data.
Not all broadband providers offer both mobile and home options. If you are only looking for a mobile broadband option Smart and Sun Cellular are the providers you can choose from. Other broadband providers offer mobile routers as an extra on top of some home broadband plans. Deciding on what you want first lets you focus on what you are looking for. That way you can make sure not to fall for any marketing tricks and end up paying more for something you do not need.
What Your Plan Should Offer
Once you know what you are looking for, you can focus on what the plan should offer you. Broadband plans have two main characteristics:
- the maximum download speed of your connection
- your consumable data volume per month
Most internet service providers like PLDT, Globe, Sky and Converge offer different combinations of speed and volume. Knowing what will fit your requirements the best can help you find a better deal for yourself.
There are two factors that help determine which download speed is right for you: your online activities and the number of users and devices that access the connection.
Different online activities require different download speeds. They may also work at lower speeds, but meeting the requirements will allow us to enjoy them the most. Videos are the most demanding, followed by music streams, while other activities demand far less. If you wish for a higher quality stream this will also demand higher speeds.
You may have noticed that when many people are connected to a WiFi network, it will get slower and pages will take longer to load. A user, in this case, is not only a person but any device accessing the internet. With the number of users accessing the broadband connection, the required minimum speed rises. So, if you are watching an HD video on your laptop, with your smartphone connected to the WiFi, you must account for both devices.
So, how do you know what the right speed is for you?
In short: Add up what you do at the same time! With more activities happening, your broadband plan will need to be faster. However, keep in mind that it is unlikely that everybody will always stream an HD video at the same time. Ask yourself these questions:
- How many people will access the network regularly?
- How many activities happen at the same time?
- What are my main activities?
- Are loading times or lower qualities acceptable?
This website offers a simple calculator that can help you estimate the download speed that you will need. If you need your speeds to always meet your requirements, you should choose a slightly higher speed than you require. The broadband network in the Philippines is still developing and especially at peak hours connections can be slower than advertised.
Consumable Data Volume
While most home broadband plans offer unlimited data, some providers also have plans with a limited amount of consumable data. These plans usually give you higher download speeds as a trade-off. Mobile broadband plans on the other hand always have limited data volume. If you understand your activities this will help you estimate how much data you need.
How much data you need per month also comes down to the same two factors: your online activities and the number of users. However, your activities have a greater influence. One person that watches two hours of videos every day will need more data than 3 people that only browse the web for the same amount of time.
How much data you will require is highly individual. If you know your past data usage use that as a reference. That is the most detailed information you can get. If you have multiple high volume users, it might make sense to play it safe and focus on unlimited plans. Alternatively, you can do your best to estimate your usage. The following table offers an overview of hourly data usage estimations:
Focus on your high-usage activities like videos, music streaming and social media activity. Even with multiple users, emails and browsing the internet will most likely account for less than 3 GB per month, which is about 3000 websites a month or 100 websites per day.
To make an estimate, ask yourself:
- How many people will use the broadband connection?
- How often do I watch movies or series?
- How much time do I spend on Facebook and Instagram?
This website offers an easy to use data calculator that can help you find the right volume.
Step 2: Choosing the Right Broadband Plan for You
After the first step you should know:
- What kind of a broadband connection you are looking for: mobile, home or both
- How fast your broadband connection should be: 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 Mbps or more
- How much consumable data volume you require with your plan: unlimited or limited
If you can answer these questions it should be easy to pick a broadband plan: Go for the cheapest! But if you are unsure about your exact needs, focus either on one: download speed or volume. Then look at the providers that meet your requirements the best. The main providers for home broadband plans are Globe, PLDT, Sky and Converge. To date Globe and PLDT have the largest coverage, however, you should check with each provider to see whether your building is actually covered. Mobile broadband plans are offered by Smart and Sun Cellular.
Each provider has a different focus with its plans, here is an overview of the key offerings:
- Globe has the largest range of maximum speeds and volumes. However, they do not offer any unlimited plans and their data volumes are split between DSL and LTE, which may result in lower speeds.
- PLDT offers both unlimited and limited plans with a reasonable data volume range. With their bundle packages you can add a cable TV plan on top of your broadband plan.
- Sky plans all give you a cable TV package along with your broadband and with some plans mobile broadband. They have low budget plans with very limited data, otherwise unlimited and limited plans with a reasonable data range.
- Converge has the lowest coverage in the Philippines at the moment, but offers high-speed fibre with unlimited data volume.
When choosing a plan you should keep in mind that the regular lock-in time for a home broadband plan is 24 months (mobile broadband plans are usually less). While the providers advertise high speeds, the actual download speed you get may be significantly lower, especially at peak hours. As the development of the broadband infrastructure progresses over the next years, this promises to get better.
At MoneyMax.ph we do our best to help you find the offer that fits you the most and at the best price. Following the two steps, we propose will ensure that you can focus on what you need in a broadband plan. That way you can focus on the best price and you do not get drawn into paying more for things you do not need or want.