Internet: Smart versus Globe in the Philippines

smart globeHere in the Philippines there are really 3 major carriers to consider when it comes to getting internet access via a modem adapter.  You can also get it via DSL router and phone line, but for a guy-on-the-move like me, I don’t want the hassle of setting up a landline phone just to get internet when I can get an adapter for the same price and use it in town or different islands via my laptop.  

Another downside to home DSL is that it is dependent on passing through the physical phone lines.  Yah.. good luck with that.  If you’ve seen the knotted messes of telephone lines I’ve seen around here you’d wonder how a single phone call ever makes its way through, let alone an internet signal.  That’s just my opinion based on the often crappy DSL signal people here complain about.  Some islands are getting the newer, fiber lines and those I would imagine are awesome.. but not likely to be found in smaller towns any time this decade.

Here you can choose from Globe, Smart or Sun.  One thing I learned quickly here is that most everyone uses Sun for their Texting plan because it is the cheapest, but their Voice network absolutely SUCKS.  I have a phone with dual-sim chip capacity.. I use Sun for all my texting (cheap) and Globe for my voice-calls.  Using Sun for voice usually turns into one of those, “What?”, “What did you say?”, “Did you say, Meet you today?”, “Huh??” conversations.  Two tin cans with string would work better, I am not exaggerating.  So I didn’t even consider Sun for internet access.  If you’ve used Sun for sun_wirelessBroadband, leave a comment on what your experience was (below) and shed some light on whether their net access is any better than their Voice plans.  Meanwhile, there may be other lessor networks but I never bothered with them.  When I got here I went to the mall and the only service center represented was a Globe store, so I went with them.  I wanted to have a storefront I could go to locally in case I needed tech assistance or ask promo questions, which in fact I did need at first.  Globe has excellent text, voice and net signals all over the place and is found in any decent or large sized mall.  Very convenient.  For six months I’ve been very happy with Globe, they provide 4G service (in a lot of areas, not all) and 3G service with a strong signal even when the local power goes out.  I just run my laptop on battery and keep right on surfing.  One other thing to keep in mind is that with Globe, uTorrent is ‘throttled’.. which means it’s pretty much useless at 14kbps to download a 700Mb file, unless you don’t mind downloading for about 2 months to get it.

But two weeks ago I got it into my head to try out the Smart network.  I was hoping to use it in conjunction with another piece of software to get net access at a cheaper rate by sort of ‘piggy-backing’ the adaptor.  I won’t go into all the horrid details but suffice it to say that after some expense and lots of hours trying to make it work, that idea turned into a dead-end.

So now I found myself with both a Globe and a Smart adaptor for net access.  I figured I’d give the Smart plan a try.  Globe offers an unlimited surfing plan for 30 Days at a price of 999P.  Now.. the first thing I had to learn here is that ‘unlimited‘ does not mean ‘without limits’.  Each day you have an 800Mb threshold on ‘downloads’, but you have unlimited hours on ‘surfing’.  I know.. surfing involves downloading and I tried explaining that to their customer service but.. for torrent downloads, music-streaming and Youtube video.. it’s all considered part of the 800Mb limit.  Once you’re okay with that definition, it works pretty good and I rarely if ever go over my limit.  If I do, Globe cuts me off until midnight and the clock starts all over again with fresh access.  That’s better than a full 24-hour penalty period since I might go ‘over’ limit at say 10pm and 2 hours later.. I’m back online.

Always On ImageSo when I saw that Smart had what ‘seemed’ like their counter-offer to Globe’s Unlimited 30 Days for 999P plan.. but was only charging 400P with a 1,000Mb limit with their ‘Always On’ plan.  I figured I’d definitely give it a try now that I had a SmartBro broadband adaptor.  I was soon to learn that just as ‘unlimited‘ does not mean without limit.. ‘always on‘ does not mean it will always be ‘on’.

First thing.. here in the Philippines, do not expect any uniformity between competing companies.  With Globe, you simply buy ‘load’ and use that load same as cash.  If you install say, 500P of load you can then use that credit towards a Voice promo, Text promo, Voice/Text promo or Net promo.  Simple.  So since the plan from Smart costs 400P, I bought a card for 500P of load from Smart.  And then the nightmare began.

No matter what I did, I could not get the load to install onto my SmartBro sim chip.  Thinking I’d bought a lame card from the vendor at the mall (fortunately I didn’t tear it up or throw it away).. I went online and purchased another 500P of Smart load and attempted to move it to the SmartBro chip.  Same problem, would not load.  I happened to have a SmartBuddy sim chip lying around so I put that into the adaptor and instantly.. load was accepted and I was online!  Sort of.

I’m surfing the net and I begin to notice that the 500P load is slowly diminishing every 30 minutes rather than according to the supposed 30-day Plan.  I did a little calculating and realized my 500P was only going to last me about 13 online hours.  Well.. guess what?  With Smart.. they have TWO types of load.  Voice/Text load which can also be used for Netsmartglobecards access at 40P per hour.. and they have a separate load exclusively for Broadband credit.  That means the 500P load I put on the SmartBuddy sim chip was not usable on the broadband adaptor except at the 40P/hour rate.  Dammit.

So.. I bought another 500P worth of load, this time exclusively for broadband usage.  The kiosk I bought the Smart load from had no affiliation with Smart, they only sold load cards. (Another reason it helps to have a local service front, like with Globe available.)  I installed that 500P into my SmartBro adaptor, went to their website and got the comparable “Always On” (or so I thought) plan which came with a 1,000Mb limit.

So.. there I am, finally surfing using Smart.  For one day.  I got a text via the adaptor that I had used up my entire 1,000Mb limit.  I didn’t see how that could be possible since I only downloaded a 700Mb movie and did about six hours of surfing before going to bed.  But.. I figured it would reset after midnight and I could go online again.  Nope.  Midnight came and went and still no net access.  So I figured they imposed a 24-hour penalty instead and waited 30 hours from when I went over my limit.  Still no access.  Dammit, again.

After a few emails with Smart’s customer service it turns out that their ‘Always On’ plan is nothing like the Globe 30-day plan.  Smart doesn’t offer 30-day with a 1,000Mb daily limit.. they said what they meant was, 1,000Mb total usage.. good for 30 days.  Nothing on the site made that clarification and I honestly felt a bit duped.

So.. after all this  nonsense, going back to Globe which worked fine the whole time.

I did, of course, express my thoughts to the people at Smart.  You can read that below which I sent to their customer service representative.  Hopefully this little scenario saves you some hassle when you get here and are picking out a net service provider.  (ISP)

Dear SMART Service Rep,  
I understand the ‘Always On’ plan better now, thanks for clarifying it.  I know it is Smart’s plan and not one you personally created so I don’t intend to sound personal about it.  You’ve been very helpful.
One thing you may want to pass on to the marketing department or whoever in Smart it may concern is the following as seen from the perspective of ‘the Consumer’;
As I previously mentioned, Globe offers 30 Days of unlimited net-access with a daily cap of 800Mb for 999P.   The ‘Always On’ plan by Smart does not even come close to that.  500P from Smart for 1,000Mb only lasted me 1 day.   For what it would cost me to get only 2 days of service via Smart.. (1,000P), I could get equal unlimited service from Globe for a full 30 Days.  If I were (crazy enough) to reload with the Smart Always On plan for a full  30 days of service with the Smart Plan, it would end up costing me 15,000P.  
Hmm.. spend 999P with Globe, or spend 15,000P with Smart for the same unlimited net access of 30 days?  What would you do?
I noticed that Smart also offers a truer unlimited plan of 5 Days for 200P.  It would take 6 orders of this plan to cover the 30 days in a month.  That would come to 1,200P for the month.  Globe offers the exact same thing for 999P.  What does Smart think any ‘smart’ consumer would do other than switch to Globe and save 201P per month for the same service?   Seems obvious.
Personally, I will be  tossing my Smart Adapter into a drawer never to be used again except maybe as a backup for 1 day’s service if my Globe adapter gets damaged.  During that one day I will go to my nearest mall Globe center and gladly purchase another Globe adapter because.. compared to Smart it will save me money.  I’ll be getting an equal quality network at a lesser price.  Smart can charge whatever it wants..  but in a free market society, charging more for the same service package is a sure way to lose market share.
Thank you for your prompt customer service.  As for me, I’ll be doing the ‘smart’ thing and not renewing.
 Henry V.

Henry V.

Author: Reekay V.

Since 2012 I’ve been traveling through various islands of the Philippines as a full-time Expat and spent 1999 living in Vietnam.

Share with me my ongoing adventures of life in the Philippines. Hopefully you find my observations helpful in your own adventures.
— Reekay


  1. Think it will make them change their policy? I myself was lucky enough to start out with Globe and have not had to deal with Smart. I think that I will be 'smart' and not even bother to attempt it now.

    1. Meh.. maybe there's a 1% chance the 'right' people in Smart will see this and make a change. But I'm not holding my breath. Here at Grand Mall, on Mactan, 'Dan' the Globe sales/tech Rep has been very helpful with all my questions. I checked at the Island City Mall in Bohol where I will be moving and they have a Globe store there too.

      And all this at a cheaper monthly rate. The free-market rules.

  2. Henry, Thanks for the info. I have only used the 200p 5 day Smartbro during my time there. My gf uses it also. Its good to know that Globe has a cheaper alternative.


    1. Yah, if she’s online full-time, consider the Globe ‘Tattoo’ adaptor (which I use). It’s 3G but since only some places carry 4G I’ve been happy with it. The 4G version is only a couple bucks more. With 999P/month, the Unlimited plan is the way to go. 🙂

  3. Henry, I see your point. On the other hand, the 200P for five days might work well for those on a more limited budget, that might not be able to afford the 999P for the month. I am guessing this is the niche that the Smart network is targeting.

    1. That is true. Especially for people here who only use the net once in a while. In my case, I have to have net access 24/7 to do my business and other projects, plus I like to keep up on world news.

      But if Smart were a bit more.. smart, they’d be also competing with Globe by offering a 30-day plan at an almost equal if not cheaper price as well as offer the 1-week plan.

      As a side note, being able to just pop into a cyber-cafe’ almost anywhere around here for about 30P an hour is really nice. If I want to kill some time at the mall before a movie starts that’s what I will often do. (Or drink a smoothie and watch the pretty girls go by.) Back in the States.. geez, I’ve paid up to $6/hour at a Kinko’s to go online and $1 per page to print. That was years ago though, maybe it’s cheaper now. But with all the cyber-cafe’s they have here, I don’t even lug my laptop into town anymore. 🙂

  4. We found the cost of Smart to be highly overpriced and the service to be so bad, that even a medium modem speed would have been 20 times better. And try to talk to some one who has power and you get the run-a-round. Sorry, I cannot give you my manger’s name. They are much better at hoping a problem goes away then being able to actually fix it.

  5. Thank you for this helpful tip 🙂
    I will be in Philippines for a month holiday and need a reliable and cheap internet service

  6. You beautiful creature, the “always on” promo for smart is good for smartphones, if they want to have a mobile data connection for say 1 month. Since smartphones only consume smaller amount of data than PC, therefore it is wise to use the “Always On” promo for P499 for 30 days with 1000mb limit, rather than with the “UNLISURF” which costs P995 for 30 days unlimited. But of course it depends upon how you use the internet everyday, if you download tons of apps in your phone, then that 1000mb limit would be gone in a heartbeat, then you might want to use the UNLISURF995 promo. But if you are the person that uses your smartphone, for facebook, email, messenger, map, and SELDOM downloads or streams, then the ALWAYS ON 499 is a better choice. Globe also offers the same with GoSakto; for P300 you can have 30 days mobile data with 1000mb limit, which is the same as the ALWAYS ON 499.

    For 30 days ‘Unlimited’ internet:
    Globe – SUPERSURF999
    Smart – UNLISURF 995

    But as you said, “Unlimited does not mean without limits”. At least with smart µTorrent is not throttled, so your torrent is faster if you have good signal.

    P.S. Next time, just be smart enough to analyze the promos that our networks are offering because they like to promote those promos in a vague way so that “some” costumers will be fooled in thinking otherwise.

    There is also this UnliLTE from smart which is only 299 for 7 days with 1000mb limit per day. which is cheaper than 200 for 5 days. Just sayin’.

    By the way, I use Globe Tattoo. I am happy with their download speed, but their browsing speed just so damn slow, which is ironic. I download at 300-400 kbps but when I browse the internet it loads slow………ly. For example, when I go to, the page takes long into loading completely, but when I watch videos from youtube, in just seconds the video is completely buffered.

    1. I recently was having download issues that I thought was related to throttling, here in the US. But I noticed it wasn’t happening on my Firefox browser, which I rarely use. I uninstalled Chrome and then re-installed it fresh and.. download speeds were back to normal again. 🙂

      As for Smart vs Globe.. yes, Smart is the cheaper way to go and it served me well while I was on Mactan. (in the city, in Basak) But neither Sun nor Smart could give me a signal, zero internet, when I moved to the province area of Bohol. (just outside Tagbilaran) Only Globe gives me a mediocre signal there at about 300kbps on a good day.

  7. Henry .. have you bought yourself a "magic Jack" yet? I have used my buddies when we were there in the Philippines and I was able to call the USA anytime and use it.. and it did not cost me anything to use… and you can use it as if you were in the United States with a pre-fix number from America… Best Buy sell them also..

    1. Yes, I’ve used the MagicJack while I had a good net connection on Mactan. In the province areas of Bohol though, the signal is weak and the MJack didn’t work as well. But as long as you have a good signal in the PH, it’s a great way to stay in touch.

  8. Not only that. Download speed of smart is terrible. Its average down load speed is 1mbps, what is worse, full signal of 4G. Globe 3G is faster than Smart 4G. I think smart should be accused of running false and exaggerated advertisement.

  9. Both internet speeds are bullshit, the only advantage of smart is that its ‘unlimited surf’ promo has no internet limit while globe has 800mb limit.

  10. As an update, Globe Tattoo “unlimited” for Php999 a month now has an enforced fair use policy of 1GB limit a day or 3GB a month, whichever comes first; then you’re throttled down to 2G speeds for the rest of the month. Smart also has an unlimited PHp999 service that, although covered by a fair use policy, is not enforced as strictly as Globe’s is. Also, if you look around the net, inclusive of official tests, Smart actually provides better internet service than Globe. I think, at this time, it’s better to go with Smart. So I’m disconnecting my Globe Tattoo after a month and will pay the pre-termination fee gladly. Smart has a current promo of no lock-in period for their sim only smartbro 999 subscription.

    1. Just 2 days ago I went over my (Globe Tattoo Wifi) 800Mb daily limit and, as expected, was throttled. I wish it went to 2G. What I repeatedly get in throttled mode is an average of 50kbps. That’s barely faster than dial-up.

      1. im here at home and used PLDT DSL plan 990/month but then i have internet problem connection every now and then started that time PLDT experienced international cable fault line. DSL light is on but my laptop said not connected to network or unidentified network, why is this?
        and now im planning to shift to globe, what best to use globe line internet or the globe broadband?

  11. Since I moved into a Wi-Fi-less apartment in Davao a couple of months ago, we’ve been alternating between Globe, Sun and Smart pre-paid every couple of weeks, trying to find the least terrible version, since our area doesn’t have a strong signal (despite being close to malls and well within the limits).

    In the end, I had to choose between reliable browsing but throttled downloads with Globe or fast downloads at night but TERRIBLE browsing with Sun/Smart. Since I work online, Globe is the only option for not seeing ‘Unable to connect to the internet’ every time I load 10 tabs, watching a 20kb document fail to attach to an email, or having to disconnect when my girlfriend wants to use it and vice versa.

    I resent having to pay Globe for their ‘service,’ since it really isn’t worth the cost. But what else am I going to do? At least I can afford it as a foreigner – I feel bad for people like my girlfriend’s sister who live in a 2,500-peso ‘house’ but still need to shell out almost half their rent on temperamental mobile broadband every month. That’s opening a whole can of worms with the income/expenses ratio though!

  12. Smart can’t DELIVER such a service, so it would be stupid if them to promise what they can’t produce.

  13. Globe Telecom, please stop fooling people. Globe offers the worst services. I've been in their customer service office in SM Dasma for a week now and they still are not able to resolve "their own" technical issue. Their representatives keep on telling me that it has already been forwarded to their IT department and that all I can do is wait. It has been a week now. I also realized that their offices are full of people complaining about their bad services while the SMART office beside them is also full of people subscribing to their services. I can see why people do not like Globe anymore. This is my first and last time using Globe's services. I am very disappointed. It also pains me to see how they advertise to people knowing that they are not able to provide the services that they offer. People, please be aware of their crappy services. The rumors about them filing bankruptcy really start to make sense now. Goodbye, Globe.

  14. So which is better? I’m seeing a downfall on both sides of smart and globe. I’m going to be new at this. I will be moving out there to the phillipines in May this year and I’m also trying to surf the Internet from where I’m at now looking for some good answers on which company is better for Internet and cellphone data. 🙂

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