My son butt dialed me today.

A butt dial!!!

Who knew that was still a thing in 2021. 

Don’t we all have passwords on our phones?

Apparently his is glitching.  While he rides his bike with his phone in his sweaty jersey pocket, I guess it unlocks and makes phone calls. 

Ugh…technology issues we have to deal with. 

At least the internet is really good.  Reliable.  Fast.

Unlike sometimes in the Philippines.

I hired my first OFS (actually, he was more of a VA, he wasn’t a specialist at anything) in 2005.  Internet in the Philippines was like 256k still. 

Really slow.

Things have changed a lot.  Internet is much faster there. 

More reliable.

More options.

Here’s generally how it works (from Julia, my online Filipino content specialist)

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In the Philippines, we have 3 types of internet connection. 

  1. Fiber ( Includes VDSL, FTTH, Cable Broadband)
  2. Direct Service Line (DSL – currently being phased out by Fiber)  
  3. Wireless broadband. (Using mobile network 3G, 4G, and 5G)

When working from home, land based connections like Fiber and DSL are preferable. They’re more stable, faster and provide more value. Unfortunately, the Fiber and DSL connection for some areas are limited. In our neighborhood, for example. We had a limited number of Fiber connections allocated for our area. You had to apply early if you wanted to get one. The rest had to settle for wireless internet. Or they’d have to wait for someone to end/cancel their subscription. Or wait for more lines to be made available.

But since the pandemic, more Fiber lines have been built all over the country. It is somewhat easier to get a land based connection now but it still depends on where you live. It’s easier if you live in the major metropolitan areas and harder in the provinces. 

For those who can’t get DSL or Fiber internet, wireless broadband is available everywhere as long as there’s a cellular connection. Most of us use wireless internet as our back-up internet when the land based network is down. We can buy this anywhere, from convenience stores to malls. You have the option of 

  • getting a data only SIM card and using your phone as a router or 
  • get a wireless internet router like this one for a stronger signal.

Not all wireless internet though is good enough for online work though. In my experience, you need to have a mobile Wifi device to get the speeds needed to get any work done which often caps at around 20Mbps. And it’s not as stable or reliable as Fiber. A strong enough storm is enough to slow down most wireless internet connections. You can really feel the connection slowing down when a lot of users are on the network at the same time. 

But despite these disadvantages, wireless internet is a popular option because we can easily get prepaid plans for it. You can get unlimited internet for a week at 1Gbps for only $1. So for most newbie virtual assistants, this is what they usually go for.

The 3 biggest internet service providers here in the Philippines provide all there of these services at varying rates and speeds. 

PLDT (Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company)

PLDT,  the main business provides DSL and Fiber. A lot of our internet infrastructure actually uses the phone network established by this company. That’s why a lot of their plans come bundled with a landline.

Fiber Plans

These are their basic plans. The cheapest plan here (25Mbps) is around $35/month.  The most expensive one (100Mbps) is $62/month. The 100Mbps plan is the one we’re using here at home. So far it’s been able to support me, my husband (who also works at home) and our daughter’s online classes.

If you need bigger bandwidth, they also offer these plans that come bundled with cable TV. The cheapest plan here (50Mbps) is $52/month. The most expensive one (300 Mbps) is $127.

PostPaid Wireless Internet Plans

SMART Bro is PLDT’s mobile network subsidiary that provides wireless internet. You can get a data only SIM card with them if you just need a phone or get a pocket Wifi device. The prices for these devices range from $18.50 to $41.50. The postpaid plans they have that are good enough (5G and LTE(4G)) for online work are these ones below. 

The cheapest plan (6GB) is $10.50. The 15GB connection is $20.65. 

Prepaid Wireless Internet Plans

This one above shows their prepaid plans. You can get 6Gbps for 7 days for around $4. If you want your internet to last for a whole month, it’ll cost you $21.

Globe Communications 

Glove is the main competitor of PLDT in providing wired and wireless internet. 

Fiber Plans

Below are their Fiber plans. Like PLDT, they also provide landline services.

It starts at $31/month with the most expensive plan (1Gbps) at $196.50/month.

Postpaid Wireless Internet Plans

Their postpaid wireless internet plans start at $27/month with the most expensive plan at $35.50

Prepaid Wireless Internet Plans

These are their prepaid plans. The cheapest one, which is good for 1 day, is less than 50 cents. The one good for 30 days is $31. This service is the one we use as backup internet at home. Because we only use it for emergencies, we usually get the HomeSURF 199 ($4.50).  Even though most internet outages don’t last more than 24 hours, we still get the 7 day plan just to make sure we have enough data for work and school.

SkyCable 

They’re a cable company that also offers Fiber over Cable Broadband. You can get it with or without a cable subscription. The ones shown below are the plans without cable.

Fiber Plans

There is a 4th ISP expected to enter the market, Dito. This is the newest ISP that’s been given a license to operate nationwide. For the moment, they’re only providing wireless internet but have started creating their own infrastructure to also provide Fiber connection. They’re expected to roll out their plans soon.

I can’t really recommend which internet service provider is the best because availability and strength of connection of these ISPs depend on the area. To find the best ISP, you really need to do your research and ask a lot of questions.

All over the Philippines are smaller ISPs like ConvergeRiseInfinivan, and DCTech. These smaller broadband ISPs used to only service businesses but have recently started creating plans for homes and individual users. Their service coverage is really localized. You have to check their websites to see what cities they offer coverage.

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If your OFS is having internet problems, ask them what their options are.  Usually they already know because their livelihood depends on it.

I don’t recommend you pay for their internet, but you might increase their salary a similar amount to how much upgraded internet costs.

John