My Experience with Smart Bro wireless broadband Internet

INTRO

Smart Bro is one of the biggest Internet Service Provider (ISP) brand in the Philippines. It could easily be the ISP with the largest user-base, surpassing even the older ISPs that have been around since the Internet started way back in the 90s.

POPULARITY

One of the reasons why it is very popular is its affordability. Since its conception in the early half of the decade, it was one of the ISPs to introduce low monthly subscriptions to its subscribers, back when local cable operators and DSL/dial-up services from telcos were ridiculously priced and required you first to be a cable TV or telephone subscriber before you can avail of their Internet services.

Aside from it being cheap-ish, the technology and infrastructure by which Smart Bro piggy-backed on was already in place. SMART being one of the primary cellular phone companies in the Philippines, already has hundreds of cell sites situated all over the archipelago. It didn’t need existing cables and telephone wires to operate. Smart Bro is a wireless broadband service and, simply put, for it to work, required only getting the proper equipment deployed on those cell towers, and the customer’s radio antenna to be in line-of-sight to one of these towers.

With these 2 things it wasn’t long before the masses caught up with what Smart Bro offered.  With most still on dial-up and many going to Internet cafes, an unlimited connection and cheap-ish monthly rate was a much-awaited relief from that habit.

DISCLAIMER

It is not my intention to bad-mouth Smart Bro.  I myself am a subscriber (on and off) since way back in 2005.  Its service has only done wonderful things to the many economically-challenged Filipinos who are way behind in this Internet Age.  What this is all about is merely an observation that I have written after being a long-time Smart Bro subscriber who has then switched to another ISP.  So before you conclude that I am whining, hear me out first.

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Whether you depend on your Internet connection to endlessly browse the web, chat a lot, often call your friends/relatives in other countries, stream/download media continuously, play a lot of online games and so forth, having a fast and stable connection is VERY important. And if you happen to be one of those work-at-home persons that is much, much common these days, your internet connection is literally your lifeline to getting that monthly paycheck.

THE GOOD

Up-time for Smart Bro’s connection is superb.  In my experience it rarely goes out.  I’ve lived in 2 different cities that are in different regions of the Philippines and the results are the same.  Best estimate is a 98.9% (++) uptime throughout the year.

Smart Bro’s call-in support, whether it be related to sales or technical, is very good too.  Most of the time your call will go through a trained representative to answer your questions and complaints.  Globe’s call-in support, for example, always disconnects after you’ve been put on hold for a long time.  And if perhaps their call-in customer service representatives are too few, your wait time or chances to talk to one becomes a headache.  I know because I’ve tried to inquire about their GlobeDSL service a number of times. It took me dozens of attempts before I finally got a living, breathing human being at the other end of the line, instead of that annoying answering machine and the incessant music playing in the background while I waited.

When applying for a Smart Bro account their team is just excellent!  Paper requirements is not a hassle at all.  Installation is fast.  If you are lucky, they can have everything done the very next day from your application.  Other services takes more than 5 working days or even longer.  Smart Bro is just very efficient on this one.  And if its even a merit, their staff at Smart Wireless Centers always seem eager to help and pleasing to the eyes.

THE BAD

It seems weather plays a big factor with the connection. There are only 2 major weather conditions in this country – sunny or rainy. A lot of the time it rains. Probably more than half the time in a year. So what has the rain got to do with it? Well, I have noticed that whenever it rains, especially when it’s raining like cats and dogs, my Internet speed suffers greatly. Tough luck then!  And when the monsoon season comes? Yikes!

The speed is okay-ish. It is not the slowest. Certainly orders of magnitude better than a dial-up. But its not that fast either. The speed could certainly do with a slight boost. Hell, give it a bigger boost.

It is jittery quite a number of times. The latency would go up and down all throughout the day. Sometimes its too erratic that the pings could go from 100-150 to over several hundred milliseconds in just a matter of a few seconds.

RECOMMENDATION

If you only want to check your emails or join the Facebook craze, Smart Bro should be enough for you.  However if you critically depend on it for work or pleasure, I would recommend that you get a wired Internet connection. Get a DSL or cable, instead.  Its faster and more stable in terms of bandwidth and throughput.  Where you get it, is up to you.  There are many DSL providers in major cities all over the country.

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