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A practical mobile 3G solution?

Having been able to test both Smart 3G and Globe Visibility on the road in many occasions, I can fairly compare the two in terms of speed, reliability and coverage. Smart wins hands-down when we talk about 3G coverage but if you ask me about speed/performance, Globe Visibility kicks in a bit more. The fastest 3G connection speed I had with Globe was ~700Kbps while I only got about ~400Kbps on Smart.

Glove Visibility

However, I am still not that convinced with either of the two since I mostly get only GPRS speeds when testing them from out of town. So I looked at the available packages/solutions:

PLDT WeRoam
Unlimited 3G/HSDPA Internet
Unlimited WiFi Internet (via AirborneAccess)
Unlimited GPRS/EDGE Internet
Php2,500 setup fee
Php1,700 monthly service fee (MSF)
Free use of Mobile Data Card

Globe Visibility
Unlimited 3G/HSDPA Internet
Unlimited WiFi Internet (via Globe WiZ)
Unlimited GPRS/EDGE Internet
Php2,000 setup fee
Php2,000 monthly service fee (MSF)
Free use of Mobile Data Card

If you’re always on the road and out of town, you must be dependent on some form of mobile connectivity. If not, these unlimited plans might be too expensive especially if you’re already subscribed to a DSL provider at home. So what’s a more practical solution?

Get a 3G/HSDPA capable phone, buy both Smart & Globe SIM cards and connect your laptop to GPRS/3G where ever any of the two are available. So what are the going rates? For Smart 3G, they charge Php10 per 30 minutes. As cheap as your neighborhood net cafe. For Globe Visibility, it’s Php0.15 per Kilobyte, a tad more expensive. I did tell one of the Visibility people to adopt the same pricing scheme of Smart to really get things going.

Nokia 6233 I was window shopping for a 3G capable phone yesterday and found the Nokia 6233 (as suggested by Jayvee) which retails around Php15,500 at the Nokia store. That’s about the lowest 3G phone you can get from Nokia, though I haven’t checked any other brands.

Now, you don’t have to be confused which of the competing 3G packages you’ll choose. You can have both.

You can then justify the need to get a new phone.

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  • Globe should really adapt the kind of pricing scheme Smart has. That’s why I won’t use a 3G service even though my phone is 3G capable.

  • For a full-time connection (say 8 hours a day), pay-per-use is more expensive than the fixed plans (WeRoam and Visibility).

    Another factor is the WiFi provider. Airborne Access has much wider coverage than Wiz, unless you always hang out in Ayala Malls where all bets are off.

    Finally, the cheapest 3G phone I know of is the Sony Ericsson K608 – if it’s still for sale.

  • ibm_2100

    I have a prepaid Nokia 6680 using SMART 3G. I can use Skype for making calls to the US. However, SMART 3G won’t let me use Remote Desktop coz they might have blocked port 3389 (and other ports as well for other protocols). If you know how to go around this problem, I would highly appreciate it.

    Tried to use Remote Desktop using Globe Visibility and it’s working. But the price issue and GPRS-only speed on areas where 3G is not available makes me think twice over Globe Visibility.

  • Smart blocks all ports and allows just a few, so you can’t use Smart 3G as a “full Internet” solution.

  • Nokia 6680 retails for only P14,500…

  • Delfive

    I’ve been using nokia 6233 for several months now..

    And i never fail to make other people feel sorrrrry for having a higher priced phone with less of the features..

    or maybe they just don’t know how to maximze the features on their phone.. I’ve got different posts on my blog regarding 6233 including applications and games.

    http://migs.wordpress.com/tag/information-technology/mobile/

  • My K608i (Sony Ericcson) has 3G capability and retails for under 8K nowadays. Cheap and you can get two, one for your hunny, for Video calling. 🙂

  • I realized: 6233 has No HTML browser, so you can’t use 3G to the max (without the PC). No flash, so that cripples the cam a bit.

    I got a N70 Music Edition instead.

  • EPE

    Thanks for the info here. Helped me a lot.

    I am now using 3G-mobile internet connection at Antipolo City (about 3 km from church) using Nokia N73 and the Smart network. The download rates vary depending on the time of the day — I observed it to reach up to 20 KB/s, about 5x faster than dial-up, but there were times when the connection were bad — as slow or slower than dial-up (averages 3.5 KB/s for me). Overall, using the cellphone modem and the Smart 3G network is acceptable where I am at, considering a reasonable P10/30 min cost. I am happy, especially when I am only an occasional internet-at-home user and do not need full-time DSL connection.

    Regarding the phone: I would have gotten a Sony-Ericsson (K800i) if only the company hadn’t changed frequently the memory stick size and format. Thus, I settled for Nokia– and N73 is nice especially with its 3.2 mpx cam. It’s three-in-one for me — a decent camera, a cellphone, and my broadband connection. The camera is a bit expensive, but considering the cost of a separate digicam, it’s a good buy. And oh– it’s a SmartPhone too but my Palm Tungsten T is still better. It can therefore be 4-in-one for others. If you’re a music lover, then it’s 5-in-one (esp. with the music edition now coming out). I just hope it lasts more than the warranty period.

  • Cool, I hope to see a Pinoy review of the N73.

  • Moot

    Does Smart 3g allow access to port 22 or port 443? – Moot

  • Yes, Smart allows ports 22, 443, and some other “common” ports. They don’t allow the rest.

  • I got myself a SE K608i a few months ago primarily because it was the cheapest 3G phone in the market and my main use for it was going to be to access the net. I should note though that my phone battery gets totally drained after over an hour of continuous Smart 3G internet connected to my laptop via bluetooth. Some say, my battery would last longer if I used a data cable instead of bluetooth. My solution was to get a 2nd battery. You just need to disconnect from the net before your 1st battery drains. Hopefully other phones will last longer than your laptop’s battery.

  • The cable should last longer because using Bluetooth, the battery needs to power up another radio.

  • RJT
  • techla

    i’m using SE k608i. i think it’s the cheapest 3G phone. i bought it last year for 12600 (brand new). my officemate bought his k608i unit at Greenhills for 7k. i’m using Smart 3G. Sobrang useful sa kin ng fone na to, kasi kahit san ako pumunta (manila and province), nakakapag-internet ako using my laptop basta may 3G signal. i keep track of the 3G signal sa cellphone ko, bihira lang sya mawala. infairness. Yun nga lang, unlike sa N70, na 400kbps ang speed, sa k608i, 115.2kbps lang maximum sa Smart 3G pareho. Sobrang sulit ng P10/30minutes na rate!

  • RJT

    To techla…

    Bakit ganun. Both units are capable of up 384kbps na speed. So do you mean, phone dependent yung speed?

  • 115.2K sounds like a serial port speed. Is this a comparison between Bluetooth and USB cable?

  • EPE

    SMART 3G UNKNOWN CHARGES

    I am using Smart 3G on a prepaid SIM. This way, I am able to monitor the charges by checking my load before and after accessing the internet. My homesite is the Smart site (wap.smart.com.ph).

    Anyway, I just want to share my experience so far. Really, to caution everyone of unknown charges (or ‘unfair charges’) when using the Smart 3G service for web browsing.

    These are what I have observed.

    (1) Sometimes they deduct P10 off my load even after I got a ‘Gateway Timeout’ response. And this, even when I was just attempting to connect to the Smart home site.

    (2) Sometimes, I also get charged for just browsing within the Smart site when the policy says it’s free. (I do this to check the speed of connection. Supposedly, it’s free.)

    (3) Sometimes, I get double P10 deduction (P20 total) for accessing the internet in less than 30 min. I know the connection time, because my phone has that feature.

    I have complained by calling up *888 but it’s a pain, because it takes too long to finally talk to a service representative (10-15 min of waiting time!), and so far, i had only gotten one successful reversal of charge (P20) from these erroneous charges from a diffrent charging error.

    These observations were based on 2 months experience of using the Smart 3G service. I browse on the phone (N73), or sometimes on the computer through a cable connection with the phone. I guess, one should not believe that accessing even just the Smart site is free. My experience says that it’s not ‘always’ free.

    Speed-wise.. at night (7-12 pm) it’s very slow. I usually (and not always) get reasonable connection speeds early in the morning (6-8 am). Overall, dial-up seems to be more reliable.

  • Fr4nc15

    bakit ganun ang bagal ng 3G internet ko. never ko pa naranasan na umabot sa talagang 3G speed pag nag connect ako sa net. aftermath pa rin ba to nung earthquake sa taiwan?

  • khickyphutz

    I would like to ask if you guys have tried connecting to the internet using SEK800i – SMART 3G?

    I have tried connecting last night but it was too slow… The speed was like of a dial-up connection or a bit slower 🙁 I am not sure if it was just on the settings or if there are some ways I can change in the setting of my PC to improve the connection…

    I am having an average of 50-75% full in the signal bar, I thought that the speed of this is almost the same with the broadband they are offering w/c is 384kbps.. But my Average download speed using mozilla firefox is only 2-4kbps.

    Is there a way I can improve the connection?

    Anyone tried using SE K800i? Is this issue related to the phone I am using?

    Thank you and God Bless,

    MaDz

  • vinay ramani

    i m using se k800i and i tried to connect to net. The connection speed is 115.2kbps instead of 384kbps. Can any one help me in finding a solution to increase my connection speed. I m using Sony Ericsson Device 039 USB WMC Data Modem, is any other modem used instead of this, if yes which is the modem, should 3G be enabled by the network.
    Can Anyone help me in solving the speed problem.

  • Rendex

    Paano ba magconnect sa internet using SEK608i? PC yung gamit ko. Windows XP SP2.

  • dwarf

    I have been living without internet for about 4 months now [new house, no phone line]. My wife brought a new phone that supported 3g & HSDPA so I thought I would try it out.

    Tried Globe out, but because I had a prepaid card I had to manually configure it to work via the http://www.globe.com.ph APN. That worked ok, but slow and many sites wouldn’t work (like meebo etc). Plus it was very expensive and not reliable. Couldn’t test out visibility without joining, so I gave that a miss…especially after reading all the bad press.

    Then I read about Smart 3G and thought I would give it a try. P10 for 30 minutes sounded great, but heard from some forums that it wasn’t true.

    When we brought the SIM and activated the GPRS it didn’t work. My wife took it to smart to see why, they didn’t know. When I checked it, they had sent an invalid proxy address. Tried to call Smart and ask for the correct one, they didn’t know what that was. Anyway, copied the proxy from one of the other settings and away it went. Seems Smart aren’t so Smart.

    Gave it a try and it was EXCELLENT. It is now my main internet and I doubt I will need DSL anymore.

    I highly recommend Smart 3G to everybody. If you are worried about blocked ports, there are always alternatives. e.g. logmein.com etc. If you are worried about cost, it is only P10 per 30 min. Not only that, you can use 15 minutes now and 15 minutes later and still only get charged P10. Just don’t download music or ring tones from the smart wap site, or they might charge you extra for the “value added services”. But the prices are on their web site, just not obvious as they call it VAS and don’t explain what that means.

    Anyway, thanks Smart 3G.

  • gina

    tried surfing with the k800i connected to the pc via usb. its a rather weird phone (im using SMART).

    with the usb cable, it mostly says 115.2 kbps, is rarely says 994 kbps. when i open firefox, the 3g icon on the phone disappears.

    i tried it with the bluetooth and it works fine… sometimes. mostly, it only lasts for ten minutes then it says “Network Failure”. even more, it usually doesn’t connect in the first place!!!

    pls help me… chamba lng ba pagconnect sa smart?

  • Jamo

    Is there any update to this info now? Coverage and speeds and service/support. Thanks!

  • Winnie

    Thanks for all the info/alternatives here.. Haven’t been able to use my DSL connection from PLDT for the 5th consecutive day and I’m just super pissed for the red tape. Where the heck is reliability, responsiveness and process in their service?! The fact that they don’t give a feedback or status if they’re working on your problem just makes me more annoyed and frustrated. I asked for the resolution ETC and they gave me something like we have to do remote testing to determine the cause and if the problem’s on your side that we have to deploy a technician, we’d have to put you on that queue (note: that’s another god-knows-how-long waiting!). *sigh* Sorry, just venting.

  • archblue

    si am using smart prepaid 10php/30 mins and found out that their internet connection charges 10php minimum after u get connected and disconnected a minute of using …then reconnect and another 10 php..ig you are in a poor reception area …ull be ending nt only 20 php per hour but more ..and also smart internet connection doesnt allow connection to some internet games and/or p2p services over the net…. well…this would be an internet solution for you but if you are an internet weirdo …better not to use this coz it is a limited internet… i hope someone could share with me if it could be done with a router to connect to some internet places ..thanks

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  • danilou

    Can you send me instructions on how to make my Sony Ericsson K800i work as a modem for my laptop?

  • ive used my n70 for my internet connection on my laptop, its sooo slow…

    i really need globe visibility / tatoo or smartbro..

    needs to be always connected.

    been starting to blog.
    http://keywordspeak.com

  • I’ve only stuck to Nokia because of compatibility with earlier handsets when changing over, but this doesn’t fir the car cradle for the 5110 anyway.

  • neo

    I love nokia 6233. I bought it from my nephew from Dubai, and I have this for almost 4 years. 😛