Basic Philippines Internet And Telephone For New Expats

Basic Internet And Telephone For Expats

UPDATE January 10, 2020

Review for Globe LTE Hotspot

**********end update**********

One of the first things you will need when you get to the Philippines is communications: Internet and telephone connectivity in country. 

Fast And Easy Phone Options

Globe and Smart are the two main players for cellular telephone service with Globe being the biggest and having the widest coverage. Where we are there is no coverage for any provider other than Globe. 

Your cellphone or wireless hotspot from out-of-country may work in the Philippines leaving you only to buy the appropriate sim and load(talk minutes/texts/data). These are the frequencies used by Globe at this time:
Globe Teelecom Frequencies
If you need to buy a phone, then there is no end to the choices you will find at the nearest mall. You can pick up a basic no-frills model like this one carrying the Samsung label for less than 1000PHP ($20):

my Samsung B350E
Samsung B350E

Simple non-smart phones like this one are great because they are cheap, they last forever and they do not get viruses.

Outlets that sell Globe load can be found almost everywhere. I load our Globe phone sim through my Tattoo Pocket Wifi. I just use the web admin interface to send an SMS text to "2" followed by the 10 digit phone number with the amount to be shared as the content:

SMS text for sharing load on Globe

The amount shared gets added to the postpaid bill for the wireless Internet account.

Internet Access

When you start looking for Internet access, as stated before, Globe has the widest coverage. When I first arrived in the Philippines ten years ago there was NO Internet access at my location. Within the year Globe had deployed basic 2G wireless capability and the speeds were roughly dial-up speeds. Slow! Within two years after that 3G came along and that was a significant improvement. Now there is LTE and talk of 5G coming down the pike.

Globe At Home LTE

Globe's At Home LTE is a great option if you are in a location where it is available. Not all areas are served by Globe At Home at this time and since my location is not I cannot talk too much about it, but I can point you to the Globe At Home website where you can find information about both prepaid and postpaid plans.

Globe At Home LTE Update 11-14-19

I am confirming now if the tower by our house supports LTE and if it does, then I will be contracting for the Globe At Home Plan 1299 LTE Go Big package. This plan offers 9X the data that I currently have in my plan for only 300PHP more AND it comes with unlimited calls!

Globe Mobile Wifi

The other option for Globe Internet is ThePlan Mobile Wifi, which has an array of postpaid options. Among the many options available is ThePlan 999. This option, like the name says, costs 999PHP per month. If you go with "all data" you get bumped up to 16 GB of data. You will want to register for SurfAlert which will prevent you from being charged overages when your data runs out. When your data does run out you can choose to add data by purchasing promos. I generally buy the 1GB promos that cost 50PHP and are valid for three days. When you do the math ThePlan 999 is the best value of all available plans.

The Huawei mobile wifi unit that I use is several years old. The unit only supports 2G and 3G. I purchased a ThePlan sim two years ago by itself with no device option. Globe service reps were not confident that the sim would operate with my old hotspot, but it works just fine. If I need to make calls I simply remove the sim from my hotspot and install it in my spare phone and all calls are charged to my ThePlan 999 monthly postpaid bill.

A prepaid option is also available for Globe Mobile Wifi. The Globe Prepaid Mobile Wifi can be had for 1295PHP. The Huawei unit shown is the E5573. The E5573 supports  DC-HSPA+, EDGE, GPRS, GSM, HSPA, HSUPA, LTE and UMTS. In other words, in addition to being LTE capable it has fallback capability to 2G and 3G networks. However, there is no guarantee that my old ThePlan 999 sim will work in this new unit. It should and probably will, but maybe not.

You can just buy a prepaid Mobile Wifi sim like I did if you already have your own hotspot and like the caveat above regarding my old sim and the new Huawei hotspot, it should work - but maybe not. Once you have your device and sim squared away you need to buy load, which can be done with the same cards that can be bought everywhere for phones or you can buy load online with a credit or debit card. To buy load online you will first need to register for an account as detailed here.

Once you have your device, sim and load you are ready to register for a promo and some of the available promos are as follows:

VariantBrand AvailabilityData allocationValidityPrice
GoSURF 15Postpaid, Prepaid, TM40 MB for surfing2 daysP15
GoSURF 501 GB for surfing3 daysP50
GoSURF 2991.5 GB for surfing30 daysP299
GoSURF 5994 GB for surfing30 daysP599
GoSURF 9998 GB for surfing30 daysP999

Keep in mind that whether you go with prepaid or postpaid that before you buy or use your own LTE device you should make sure that you have coverage for LTE in your area.

You can check your sim to see if it is LTE capable by texting "SIM CHECK" to 8080. I get the response "Wow! You're already an LTE SIM user. Maximize your data experience by using an LTE-capable device in LTE-powered areas. Thank you."

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