Internet is neither reliable nor cheap. Hotels rely on mobile Internet so very often there will be no connectivity due to poor mobile service. To stay connected buy your own SIM cards (Globe and Smart), load them and configure promos that allow you to use Internet, phone and send text.
The Philippines is said to have the slowest and least reliable Internet in the World. It is in fact slow, expensive and sometimes not available for hours. 10 GB of download will cost USD 15 to 30 (one movie is 0,7 GB to 1,3 GB, and average daily usage is 0,5 GB if you only surf the net). Downloading a movie may take a few hours or even a whole night.
In Palawan Internet is provided by two mobile companies: Smart and Globe through modems and through SIM cards used in phones. The Internet capacity is limited so at times there is no connectivity at all despite a strong GSM signal.
In Port Barton Internet works best from midnight till the morning. Around 9 a.m. it tends to shut down completely and is unreliable throughout the day. Most tourist places will boast they offer Internet. In fact they offer access to WiFi but a strong WiFi signal means that you are connected to a router only not to the World Wide Web. There is no place in Port Barton with broadband Internet which you are used to back home and it is not the owner’s fault that there is temporary Internet blackout. Let’s hope it will change soon. Mabuti Restaurant is a bright star in the dark skies in this context. We can brag that we have the best wi-fi in the village.
The best option is to have your own Internet in your smartphone. Here is how to do it:
Buy your own SIM cards: SMART and GLOBE (buy both)*.
Buy the cards right after arrival to the Philippines. There are stands selling SIM cards in the arrivals area of every airport. One SIM card is about 50 Peso. You need two cards because in some places Smart works better while in others Globe does. In Port Barton Smart makes wonders in the beach but a hundred meters from the beach it is non-existent. It will also work better in the nearby islands and beaches. Globe works equally well in all places in Port Barton but in the beach it yields to Smart .
You need money in your SIM card. There are two ways to load your card: a terminal loading and a scratch card. In the airport ask the sales person to load your phone with 100 Peso through the terminal and buy a scratch card for 500 Peso for later. 600 Peso for each network will be enough for 3-4 weeks. In specialized shops you will pay 475 Peso for a 500 Peso card. In Shops in Port Barton same card will cost you 550 Peso, in the Airport you will pay 500.
You can also top up your sim card through internet payment from your credit/debit card. www.aryty.com charge extra for their service but it takes 3 minutes to recharge your mobile.
Configure your promo for Internet.
There are many promos to choose from. We recommend GS50 for Globe and GigaSurf50 for SMART.
Each promo costs 50 Peso, is valid for 3 days and gives you 700 MB for surfing plus 300MB for popular services, but only Globe includes FB. You will have to buy the promo every 3 days but longer promos are two times more expensive (14 centavos vs. 7 centavos per 1MB). The bytes that you did not use in 3 days will stay in your account. If you are a moderate Internet user in a week you will save up enough to download latest season of “Game of Thrones”
Smart offers a great promo called Flexitime. This promo has no download limit, so you can download a new season of your favourite TV series. There is however time limit when you can use the promo. For 50 Peso you can use internet for 7 hours and for a 100 Peso you will have 15 hours of Internet usage.
To configure Globe send text GS50 FB to 8080. If this does not work do the following: dial *143# and choose: 3 for “GoSURF50” than 1 for “GoSURF50 with 1GB…” than again 1 for “subscribe” and than again 1 for “FB”. When you are done you will receive texts with confirmations and additional info. If you get the text saying: “sorry, we cannot process your request at this time” wait about an hour or two because if you try immediately the next message will be “our system has detected that multiple promo registrations were sent from your account. With this, the system automatically disallowed you from registering to this service.” Your ban will be lifted after some 24 hours.
To configure Smart send text GIGA50 to 9999 or FLEXITIME 100 to 2200.
Configure your promo for calls
To have cheaper calls you need a promo, too. If you have already configured your surfing promo you will know what to do to configure a call promo.
* When you buy the card do not let the salesperson to offer you “best promo”. This will be the least financially efficient configuration. Globe on their website put a “recommended” stamp on the most expensive plans and do not even list their cheapest plans.