Cost of Fixed Wireless Broadband dropped 90%

Around November 2003, I was living at Bacoor City, Cavite renting a nice penthouse on a 3-storey building one kilometer south of SM Bacoor. I liked it there — the food is cheap, quite subdivision, rent is super cheap (Php3.5k for a one bedroom penthouse inc. water and electricity) and lots of space I can host a party for around 50 people.

When I got an offshore job and had to work from home, the first thing that I really needed was broadband connection. PLDT DSL was just new then and the only part of the city that had coverage were the ones beside the Aguinaldo highway. If you’re 50 meters away from the national road, you’re out of luck.

Thus, I looked for other alternatives — cable internet, ISDN, satelite internet and fixed wireless. Nothing was available except wireless broadband and Meridian Telekoms was quick to hook me up for a trial run for 1 week. They went to my pad, positioned the antenna and looked for a steady signal from their nearest tower which is in the Alabang Town Center.

Alas, the signal was enough to get some stable connection. But the price — Php8,888 per month (VAT inclusive) plus a Php10,000 deposit for the antenna with a lock-in period of 2 years. I reckoned, that’s more than twice what I pay for my rent, ah! So I decided I’d rather move back to the metro, get some decent broadband and use the funds to pay for a nice condo or apartment. And until today, I’m still here in the same place I moved into 2.5 years ago.

Ok, we’re done with the tangent….

When Smart bought into Meridian Telecoms and offered Smart Wifi last year, it only costs Php988 (or Php788 promo). At my meeting last Monday with Smart, I was amazed to learn that that same fixed wireless broadband I almost signed up years ago is the same Smart Wifi being offered right now. The price dropped a staggering 90% — yes, ten-folds. At least, they made it as cheap as the dial-up. But so much for the connectivity and support problems which, btw, seemed to have degraded 10 folds as well.

7 Comments on this Post

  1. what as cheap as a dial-up? come-on! unlimited dial-up nowadays cost around 600 pesos, well tumaas na nga eh, last year it cost around 500 pesos.

    We need cheaper dsl in manila with higher bandwith, and Meridian did that last year but eversince Smart got hold of them slow connection occured. Sayang talaga ang Meridian they shouldn’t have sold it to Smart.

    And its 999 now no more 988, wahhhh! PLDT took over with the way the price must go.

    and I agree about how your observation about the problems, complaints in DTI and NTC, everything else that SMART is experiencing. Simply Amazing HUH!

    BTW WI-Max in US cost around 1000 pesos for 1MBps connection. sayang Philippines doesn’t have that kind of bandwitdh

  2. It would be interesting to know where Vance got that price for WI-Max in the US. WI-Max is unheard of in 90% percent of the US. (we all don’t live in California). Where available, it’s typically a lot more than PhP 1000 per month.

    Typically, those in the US who can get any kind of high speed connection pay about $40 to $50 per month (~2000/2500 PhP) for anything from nominal 512 kbps DSL to (sometimes) 2Mbps cable modems. Unlike a lot of Filipino fairy tales things in the US aren’t always what the stories make them out to be

    Yuga, in your last sentence, what are you saying? That the connctivity is now 10 times worse or that the problems are 10 times less (and thus the connectivity 10 times better)? Is this service available in Valle Verde?

    Best reagrds

  3. i’m sorry what i meant was that the assume price for wi-max in us will be around 1k for 1mbps. because of how its cheaper to set it up than a wired dsl. though the equipment and installation will cost more than the monthly service. and I read that from an old article last year. If that didn’t pursue then i guess i was wrong.

    btw verizon offers them at roughly 1500 per month for a 3mbps/768 which is much cheaper than here.

    well you know it better than me. you live In US.

  4. @ vance

    This is still the 3rd world and bandwidth is pretty expensive to have. The Php999 price for Smart Bro actually includes the price of the canopy which btw is rented for free, thus the 1-year lock-in period.

    @ Dave Starr

    I was looking at it on a support-to-customer ratio. When fixed wireless was only available thru Meridian 2 years ago, they were able to provide really good support because they only have a few hundreds to a probably a thousand customers Luzon-wide. If they have only 30 support people then, the ratio is somewhere around 1:20 to 1:50. That is why it was really expensive — Php8,888/month for 128Kbps — and only businesses in remote areas who badly needed broadband can afford it. The Meridian cell sites, while also very few, are dedicated to only providing service for these few subscribers and thus the quality of the connection are rigidly monitored and optimized.

    When Smart came into the scene last year, they were able to lower the price to as much as Php788 because they already have the insfrastructure (i.e. the hundreds of cell sites nationwide). However, these same cell sites are also servicing hundreds of millions of SMS and call traffic at the same time. Talk about a congested network.

    Smart has an estimated 60,000 wifi subscribers right now (from what was told to me during the meeting) and I reckon that a whole lot of those people are not getting the “promised” service.

    Smart Wifi is available in most areas where there is a Smart cell site on a 3 kilometer radius. On remote locations, they will need enough potential subscribers to set up on. On areas that are tourist spots, they set it up early on knowing that there will be demand for it there.

  5. @abe yah thats what i said. but there are some 3rd world country that has higher bandwidth alloted though at high price.

    btw I didn’t know that Smart’s cellphone antenna and the base station are the same nice info Abe. I thought its seperate thing, since meridian is a stand alone company before. I learned a new thing. Thanks Abe.

  6. I forgot to add that I still like the 988 price of meridian and smart wifi, kasi if you need to fax the payment slip you have to pay 15 pesos (fax service), hehe. ngayon lalampas na sa 1k a month kung late ka mag bayad. tsk tsk.

  7. @ Vance: No sorry is required, I was just pointing out that it’s pretty hard to make a generalization as fragmented as service is across the US.

    That deal from Verizon certainly would be a good one … it’s not offered, nor anything like it that I can see in Colorado. Sadly the actual pricing per megabyte never seems to follow the actual costs to provide in any real sense.

    I did some research with a firm here in the hinterlands (remote provinces LoL) who can offer Wi-Fi very cheaply because they have worked a number of deals with local governments to share infrastructure … government supplies the sites and gets bandwidth for municipal business, commercial subscribers pay for equipment … but the going is extremely slow because very few businesses and individuals even realize that connectivity not provided by ‘the phone company’ are even legal, let alone do-able.

    @ Yuga: Thanks for the info, I’ll know a little more about what to look for … possibly I’ll be making the move in about 3 months, but still not possible to really set a date.


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