Wired! Philippines Internet Scene - A Report From the Trenches
By Migs <map@internet.org.ph>

Since I'm directly involved in the Internet Industry, I get to follow the different little things that are happening here. Compared to other parts of the IT industry, it is kinda quiet, but I'll try to bring out some things that may be interesting.

First off, it seems that providers are making the move to Satellite connections for their Internet access. You might speculate, it may be due to the lower cost, or the higher bandwidth available (you currently cannot order more than E1 bandwidth, or 2 Megabits per second, through undersea cable-based carriers). In any case, a number of providers have been making the move.

Philcomsat has been doing a lot of marketing a lot here lately, signing up Pacific Internet http://www.pacific.net.ph, with the North American side provided by Teleglobe http://www.teleglobe.com and the satellite provided by Intelsat http://www.intelsat.int. Another value-added service provider for satellite links is InterPacket http://www.interpacket.net which gives service or demos to other ISPs.

Other providers who are using satellite links are Cyberspace, Inc. http://www.csi.com.ph, Manila Online http://www.manila-online.net, Philippines Online http://www.philonline.com, among others --- my apologies if I left you out. These service providers so far deliver the end-users service the normal way, through dial-up or leased lines. For direct-to-the-home satellite service, I believe Zaksat http://www.zaksat.net was the first.

Speaking of higher-speed connections to the end-user, cable modems have gotten a lot of attention with Destiny Cable's www.mydestiny.net service called "My Destiny". Reports from the mailing lists suggest that the service is fast, though Destiny's aggressive marketing campaign (smothering the newspapers with their ads) crowds up their inquiry lines. Home Cable has had a service called CableNet http://www.cable.net.ph for some time already, though their acquisition by PLDT http://www.pldt.com.ph might make things even more interesting - especially when coupled with PLDT's complete buyout of their Infocom http://www.info.com.ph ISP. Cable TV pioneer Sky Cable http://www.skycable.com is said to be testing their own Internet-over-cable in certain areas, which is much-awaited by many considering Sky Internet http://www.skyinet.net has been around since 1996.

Note however that cable modems are shared - the network acts as one big Ethernet. For dedicated bandwidth to the subscriber, the technology to use is DSL, or Digital Subscriber Loop. The most common version in use abroad is Asymmetric DSL, or ADSL in short. The telco needs to provide a copper line which can carry up to 7 Megabits per second from the telco switch to the user, and up to more than 600 Kilobits per second in the other direction. The ISP provides a switch at the telco's central office (CO) which links up to the rest of the Internet.

So far, the only working installation I have heard of is in Baguio, with Piltel (Pilipino Telephone Corporation) http://www.piltel.com.ph providing the local loop and Mosaic Communications http://www.mozcom.com acting as the ISP. I have heard rumors that one of the local exchange carriers in Metro Manila tried to test ADSL but the poor quality of the copper prevented the signal from transmitting more than a few blocks.

That's all I have for now, and until I see you again, have a good time in cyberspace.


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