Surf Brakes

If there is one thing that really ticks me off is when I am stopped in the middle of work or a creative flow. I resent the interruption almost as much as narrow-minded restrictions and framework conditions. Moving to a new country, or simply moving to a new home, has its many pitfalls, one of them being the application for utilities and establishing connectivity. Getting a pre-paid SIM card in the Philippines is a piece of cake, compared to other countries. There are, however, deep and dark sides to the simplicity of this procedure, which I am beginning to discover… and despise.

During the two years that I shuttled back and forth between Bangkok and Manila I used a local pre-paid SIM card from Globe Telecom. The signal was strong in all the areas where Globe is the preferred provider here in Metro Manila, but soon realized that for road trips, it was the worst to have. A Globe signal is tricky enough to catch outside of Metro Manila, but a functioning LTE signal even worse, which renders your GPS and other navigation apps useless (SMART on the other hand, is absolutely brilliant even in the remotest villages or even high seas in Zambales! ). I put up with Globe simply because it was not worth going through the trouble of getting a post-paid account if I wasn’t a resident.

Things changed completely last month when I arrived back home and settled in. I applied for a LTE broadband connection with the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), the ULTERA package, and was told that the processing and connection time would take me about six to eight days. This was three weeks ago. When I called to follow up the application I was informed that they had run out of routers and it would take another two to three weeks before I can be scheduled for a connection. In the meantime, I use the DSL connection of my parents (who luckily live in the same building) or the personal hotspot function of my iPhone. Then I discovered that the Globe a pre-paid package called SUPERSURF 200, which is a mobile data plan worth PHP 200 (ca. 3,85EUR / 4.26USD) valid for five days and guarantees all-day internet connection. It was too good to be true, and quite frankly, it served my purposes for the most part. Until last night.

In the middle of doing some research online and revamping my website last night I received the text message from Globe saying that they had noticed my high internet consumption for the day, (i.e. exceeded 1GB threshold) and in the interest of Fair Use for other Globe customers they were immediately slowing down my internet speed. What?! From that moment on I could only call up my emails but downloading attachments was a veritable application to sainthood with the time it took. Needless to say I was livid.

Taking a closer look at this Fair Use policy I found the following corporate policy of Globe:

Your network is a shared resource used by all Globe subscribers. We want to protect the experience of 97% of our base against the 3% who take up more than their fair share of our network bandwidth.

Those who are most likely to be affected by the Fair Use Policy are those who use peer-to-peer applications to download large files, use their mobile phone as a personal hotspot, or stream videos heavily on a daily basis. These activities use up a majority of your network bandwidth, affecting other subscribers.

We assure you that your line or your mobile internet service will not be cut when you reach the 1GB/day or 3GB/month threshold for Postpaid subscribers and 800MB/day threshold for Prepaid users. Your internet speed will just slow down to make sure that others can also enjoy our shared resource.

If you reach the 1GB/day or 800MB/day threshold, your speed will go back to normal at 12:01AM the next day. If you’re a Postpaid user and you reach the 3GB/month threshold, your speed will temporarily decrease, and go back to normal at the start of the next month.

Don’t worry, our Fair Use Policy is in compliance with global industry practice, and telecommunications companies all over the world implement this. (source: Globe Telecom FAQs / website) 

It is frustrating beyond description for people like me who work with three time zones, and just when I’m getting into the flow of things, the brakes are pulled. When I pay for a service and am guaranteed connectivity, I do not give a hoot about other people’s usage. I expect to get what I paid for, nothing less. If application for a broadband connection at home were any easier here, then I wouldn’t be ranting, but it’s not, so I have no choice but to use whatever facilities are at my hands. I wonder when the Philippines will ever introduce Flat Rate Data plans? When I compare the connectivity plans in the Philippines to Thailand and Germany, we still have a long way to go. Granted, the flat rates in Germany cost an arm and a leg, but people are willing to pay for it if it is available (and is necessary). My daughter and I used pre-paid data flat rates in Thailand and often exceeded the 1GB threshold but were never scaled down and had 24/7 connectivity.

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