The World of Broadband 2016 (Philippines)

I have noticed a sharp increase in requests for "Broadband" help from my friends here in Tagaytay.  One of the remaining challenges is the generational (at times) lack of knowledge on what it takes to get/remain connected to already compromised services from the ISP (Internet service provider) here in the PI. I would like to just list a few key words along with my opinions to start the dialog.

…. a few key terms to get everyone on the same path follows:

If we go back in history we had the UN agency called the ITU, or International Telecommunications Union, who sets telecommunication standards for the world. The ITU coined the terms 1G, than 2G, 3G and 4G… now 5G, the technical standard for wireless or modulation protocol (i.e., wireless internet service).  I will not focus on the first 2 generations since most countries/locations are well past the former "analog/ mixed analog technology".

3G        -  Circuit switched wideband digital protocol with data.
                Often viewed on our phones or data devices as:  UMTS/ WCDMA & EvDO

3.5G     -  Always-on digital protocol with data.
                Often viewed on our phones or data devices as:  HSPA

3.75G   -  Circuit switched digital protocol with data. 
                This is where 3G & 4G merge but do not become full LTE yet.
                Often viewed on our phones or data devices as:  HSPA+ / HSDPA / HSUPA

4G        -  Packet switched digital protocol.  Allows true VOIP.
                Often viewed on our phones or data devices as:  4G  /  LTE  /  WiMAX

4.5G    -  Upgraded digital rate protocol.
               Will be viewed on our phones or data devices as:  LTE-A

5G       -  Yet fully developed protocol.
               Reported to be viewed on our phones or data devices as:  5G

Important Tech legend

HSPA      = "High Speed Packet Access"
HSDPA   = "High Speed Downlink Packet Access"
HSUPA   = "High Speed Uplink Packet Access"
HSPA+   = “Evolved High-Speed Packet Access.”
WiMAX   = “Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access”
LTE        = “Long Term Evolution”

Please feel free to ask related questions or share your personal experience with past or current wireless broadband speeds you use here in the Philippines.  I do realize that some are very happy with any speed they get, may never be interested in the technical aspects and will never engage in sharing detailed technical exchanges.  I hope that all can learn how to cope with all of the current and future issue that are before us and look forward to all contributions.

P.S. Some about to retire and move to the Philippines may wonder what cell phones, routers or pocket wifi devices will work the best here?  Here is a great way to get answers and learn what others have used to achieve a broadband connection.

Calif Native,

As always another helpful and informative post.  Thanks for sharing.

Calif-Native and others,

For anyone interested in technology and interactive definitions this website is a great place to learn about the technical world and best of all it's FREE!!

TECHtionary website link:

Thanks TeeJay,

You provided a great resource!!! 

All Others: 
Expats from the UK - Please find below a 2016 review of top rated cell phones and tablets from the UK:

Expats from the USA - Please find below a 2016 review of top rated cell phones and tablets from the USA:

Note: For many reasons related to connectivity, US based devices should be from GSM carriers (ATT, T-Mobile & Selected Verizon units) and not from CDMA carriers  (Verizon, Sprint, & Metro) unless they provide devices with both capabilities.

Here are the reasons (in simple terms) for the above cautions. Globally, LTE frequencies are based on selected frequencies and "Bands" within the selected frequencies which are assigned or purchased by the TELCOs.  One must understand the frequency and band spectrums each provider uses in order to match the device they intend to use with the provider's bands. 


Smart broadcast LTE in the following LTE frequencies and bands: 
LTE-A or 4.5G (in Boracay Island only)

Both Smart and Globe use LTE with Smart using band 1 the most while Globe uses band 3 the most here in the Philippines.  Smart also starting to use the other two bands for better coverage in weaker signal areas and to spread to the provinces.

However, ATT USA uses the following 4 LTE frequencies and bands:

1900 /2

In comparison, phones from China that are not allowed in the USA use LTE Bands:

An American expat must make sure their ATT device has the other LTE freqs/bands built in or the best they will get in the PI is 3G.  In general, the iPhones from both ATT and Verizon have the greatest number of LTE frequencies built in. The Verizon high-end devices have both CDMA and GSM/LTE capabilities and now come unlocked. 

In summary, using a US based iPhone 6S, the LTE  Bands include: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29.  This means both an ATT or Verizon iPhone 6S will connect to either Smart or Globe LTE towers here in the Philippines.

To add one more mix to the alphabet soup of acronyms and techno-talk - When the focus is on the emerging LTE-A devices, they are out there and available globally in Sept 2016.  Since most LTE connections will max out at 75Mbps the next step LTE-A is currently at 225Mbps with a total possible 300Mbps. 

To add some confusion, there is one other major set of obstacles to move through as a person watches the terms change by global locations.

Example:  LTE-A (or LTE Advanced) is the term used in South Korea and the USA.  However, in Singapore, France, Qatar, and the Netherlands, it’s called 4G+.  Therefore an expat retiring from selected locations will need to adjust to the marketing terms used to categorize any device purchased while in that region.

To be sure, the Philippines will have a major set of issues trying to obtain true LTE-A speeds.  Here is why - The ITU requirement for true LTE-A requires that a mobile network must fulfill a number of benchmarks.  Significant features include offering a peak data rate of at least 100 megabits per second in a mobile mode (i.e., when the user is in a car or train), and 1 Gigabit per second (1 Gigabyte (GB) is equal to 1024MB  or 1000000KB) in a fixed position (such as home or office).  There are phone categories that will add additional layers of potential confusion so I will limit this by just saying try to get a "CAT 4" or higher phone.   

Some have asked me to explain megabyte vs. Gibabyte, etc.  Trust me, you do not want me to post much on this topic unless you just love math.  If that is the case, I will just say that a Google search on those terms along with Terabyte, Petabyte, Exabyte, Zettbyte, Yottabyte, Brontobyte and Geopbyte will give you all the math review you need for the next few decades.

The Philippine's commercial wireless network is barely reaching the min. LTE benchmarks in prime areas and mostly broadcasts data within the HSPA+ spectrum. Watch this video for a great 4G vs LTE technology explanation.

Nonetheless, expats need to understand what they already have and need to retain or be ready in the near future to update or obtain their unlocked devices that support both LTE & LTE-A broadcasts to stay with the game.   Ideally, we should be looking for Cat 6 phones (i.e., phones with 300Mbps down and 50Mbps up capabilities.  So where can one get such a device and what are the model numbers that come with a Cat 6 LTE-A capability?

Samsung Galaxy S4 (South Korean version) one f the first LTE-A phones.
Samsung Galaxy S5 (newly released for the South Korean market)
Huawei Ascend Mate 7
LG G3 (32GB version)
Huawei Honor 6
Google Nexus 6
Z5 premium (single sim)

Although with slower speed caps (150Mbps down and 50Mbps up) the following Cat 4 phones are reported to work with LTE-A systems:
iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Samsung Galaxy Alpha, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, LG G3 (16GB), Sony Xperia Z3, Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, Sony Xperia Z2, Sony Xperia Z1, Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, HTC One M8, HTC Desire Eye, HTC One E8, HTC One Mini 2, Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini, LG G2, Oneplus One, Google Nexus 5, Sony Xperia Z Ultra, Huawei Ascend P2, Nokia Lumia 930, Nokia Lumia 830 and Nokia Lumia 1520.

…… a final comment.  No matter your current or future phone selection, please be aware of the SAR ratings of any phone you talk on as it relates to placement near your head. What is SAR?  It is, "a measure of the rate that body tissue absorbs radiation energy during cell phone use called the specific absorption rate (SAR)."

I always try to use a bluetooth device to keep the handset away from my head.  Here is a very good article to review on this topic: … eID=003054

Happiness and health to all!

Hi...I occasionally read these blogs and I'm a little perplexed as to why you think the average Filipino living on merely enough money just to make it through the day, would or could make any sense of what you just wrote. Do you really think they have a need to know all this technical data?  Who is this meant to benefit?

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