Giannis Antetokounmpo

Globe: Faster surfing online in metro this November

Katherine Visconti
Good news for those tired of buffering while searching the net on the go

MANILA, Philippines – Surfing the Internet on the go, many people notice the variations in speed from location to location. The smartphone stays the same but in one place, a search buffers, and in another, results appear instantly. 

Surfing experience is expected to become faster and more consistent in Manila come November, by which time over 1,000 of Globe’s 3G sites in the metro should be upgraded, explained Gil B Genio, in charge of corporate strategy and business development, at the sidelines of a briefing on Globe’s 1st quarter results for 2012. 

Meanwhile Genio said, Cebu is expected to experience the same type of upgrade between December and January. 

According to Genio, the differences in surfing experience is caused by cell sites having varying levels of 3G capability.

“Historically only a subset of our sites are 3G capable,” said Genio, adding that, that is the norm across Philippine telecommunications companies. 

Good news

Part of Globe’s $700-M network modernization plan is making sure all of their roughly 11,000 national sites are 3G capable, he added. 

“We have chosen the highest speed possible on 3G because there are 4 flavors of 3G…at the highest level we have a technology called HSPA+. And we have decided all of our sites will be HSPA+ capable. Now that level is just one shy of LTE, which is a slightly different technology beyond 3G.” 

This is good news for smartphone carriers. Right now, even if consumers have HSPA+ capable phones, like the iPhone 4s, they won’t experience a heightened quality of surfing if their nearest cell site isn’t equipped for HSPA+.

Genio said surfing should get much faster in Metro Manila after the upgrades. “The maximum theoretical speed of all the users in [an HSPA+ capable] site is 72 megabits per second, but you are not the only one in the site and there are many other constraints so you won’t get that obviously.”

Generally the more users are on a network, the more speeds slow down. So, the shared 72 mbps will be an improvement from the lowest form of 3G which Genio said has an aggregate speed of 1.5 mbps. Those without HSPA+ capable phones will be able to tap into the other levels of 3G, spreading out customers among the 4 tiers. 

The Philippines has been criticized for having slower Internet speeds than most of its neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian countries (Asean).

With an average national connection speed of 1.1 mbps, the Philippines was placed below the 2 mbps “broadband threshold,” in the “State of the Internet” report published in the 3rd quarter of 2011 by Akamai, a leading global service provider for accelerating content and business processes online. 

Fitting into the overall strategy 

Globe CEO Ernest Cu said broadband and postpaid mobile subscribers would fit prominently into the company’s strategy going forward.

“Postpaid is Globe’s stronghold,” said Cu. 

“Only 20% or less of the population has smartphones so we think [we] will satisfy their needs [with] 3G before moving to LTE,” he noted.

He and other Globe executives realize smartphones take-up is a fast gathering wave. 

“If you look at the stats for the 4th quarter across the industry, in terms of shipments, 60% or 1 out of every 2 customers in every market, post-paid and pre-paid, is choosing a smartphone,” said Globe advisor for consumer business Peter Bithos.

No one wants to buy a regular phone anymore, joked Cu. 

He said phones would become many Filipinos’ first computer. “What’s going to change the lives of everyone is putting a low-cost Android smartphone in everyone’s hands,” said the Globe president. –