Wednesday, July 29, 2015



Thinking of a work from home setup? Working from home means having more time with the family, but you have to consider your kids, background noises (dogs, tricycle, videoke) and a good home office setup. One of the most important thing to invest in is your internet connection. Let me share my experience on PLDT uLTEra, after 25 months of usage of theSmart Bro Canopy plan 999 or PLDT Home Bro I can say that I’m quite satisfied with the service since I get a constant speed of almost 2Mbps download plus upload and a friend is also using the same connection for his work from home office.  As part of their retention service PLDT offered a free upgrade to PLDT Home Bro Ultera. So what do I got after the upgrade?

1.       Free installation and activation fee.
2.       3Mbps of High-speed LTE service.
3.       I could still keep my SmartBro/HomeBro Canopy till I fully use the PLDT Ultera.

Just like everybody else the first thing that I did was to run a speed test.


Wow! I was impressed with 5.03 Mbps Download and 2.00Mbps Upload speeds the 270ms ping is acceptable since Bayantel was the speedtest server provider and it was automatically picked by Ookla based on location. I think I'm getting my money's worth since my speed is above 3Mbps.

Now here's the catch, (10GB Recommended usage for optimum speed ) according to PLDT Ultera service you need to maintain 10GB of data per month to keep on getting the 3Mbps speed. So let's compute the daily cap that's 10,000mb / 30 days, you get 333 mb/day. Once you reach the daily cap of 333Mb which is equivalent to an estimate 1 hour of youtube video at 480p or an hour of movie compressed by yify,  your speed may drop to 30%. So I let my kid watch his favorite videos(Pocoyo, Peppa Pig and Elmo's World) in Youtube till we reach the daily cap then I ran another speed test. 

So my 3Mbps connection is now capped to 30% of it's original speed, my internet connection has dropped to 1.08Mbps download and 0.83Mbps upload which I think is sufficient for watching 240p Youtube video streams.

Another fine print is minimum speeds of 256 kbps at 85% reliability. This is what bothers me because as a subscriber of  PLDT, SMART HomeBro uLTEra you can't have any privilege to complain about the speed since it is stated on the fine print. So I decided to test the connection further by letting my kid watch more videos in Youtube.

Congratulations!!! I got 256 kbps, a high speed internet way back year 2000.

For other PLDT Ultera plans like 1,599 (1,299 only if you upgrade from Smart Bro) you will get.
  1. Up to 5Mbps speed
  2. 15GB cap or  500MB / day, speed will be capped around 1.7Mbps
  3. Minimum speeds of 256 kbps at 85% reliability.
For PLDT Ultera plan 1,999 (1,699 only if you upgrade from Smart Bro) you will get.
  1. Up to 10Mbps speed
  2. 30GB cap or  1GB / day, speed will be capped around 3Mbps
  3. Minimum speeds of 256 kbps at 85% reliability. 
Also, you can get constant disconnections because the modem can't detect a signal, which can be resolved by power cycling the modem (removing the power cable at the back and connecting it back) .

Avoid this modem with Model ID : WLTFSR-115GN  ask your agent if you can get a modem with external antenna.


ADDITIONAL INFO's AS REQUESTED FROM THE COMMENTS:

FROM comment 8/17/2014 @ 6:43AM and 8/17/2014 @ 7:25 PM: If this is a daily cap then try to use up the cap in the early morning then test the post cap speed in the morning.


I have read in tipid pc that the cap gets reset at 4:00am the next day so the screenshot above confirms it. Since my cap has been reset I should be getting the same speed all day given that I won't be hitting the 333mb/day cap.


So before going to sleep I played a Pocoyo video  playlist in Youtube which consists of 17 videos at 25 minutes each. Based on the screenshot above the test at 11:00AM shows that I have reached my daily cap.

 
As of this time 8/18/2014 at 11:00 AM I'm not yet capped so I'm getting a great speed. you can see that at 2:21 AM my cap has not yet been refreshed so this would be a good proof as well that the cap gets refreshed at 4:00 AM the next test was performed @ 8:14 AM and I was getting amazing results.

 PING TESTS FROM DIFFERENT SERVER LOCATION AND GARENA

I downloaded Garena to check the ping from other players. The screenshot above is from Singapore room and the ping from other players are above 200 on the right side is a speed test for a server located in Malaysia.

Above is the USA room and the ping from other players is also above 200 on the right side is a speed test for a server located in San Francisco.

AS REQUESTED BY: ANON August 21, 2014 at 4:55 AM
I got 41ms with server from Makati City and on the left side you can see that my signal is 5 bars not bad because I have an indoor router/modem.



I can monitor if I'm capped by enabling the metered connection option in Windows 8 since it gives an estimated usage of your internet connection.



On the Home Bro Canopy I can monitor the status of capping from my Dlink-router which had a DD-WRT firmware. I can get as high as 4Gb utilization per day and not being capped for the day, but once I hit 30Gb the speed will go down to 256kbps.
Note: PLDT won't tell you how much the cap is for the PLDT Home Bro Canopy because they are marketing it as "UNLIMITED"  it looks though that the cap is 30Gb monthly.

ADDITIONAL INFO: 
If you want to change the SSID of the wireless network and its password, accessing the PLDT Ultera Settings is easy just follow the steps below;
  1. Connect to your modem using wired or wireless connection.
  2. Once connected, open up a browser then type 192.168.15.1.
  3. On the log in page use:
  • USERNAME: homebro
  • PASSWORD: homebro
CUSTOMER SERVICE VISIT UPDATE: 
The recent trip to SM North Edsa PLDT customer service did not end out well because they can't process my request of cancelling the uLTEra also, going back to the Canopy is not an option as well because the Canopy has been fully terminated. Aside from that, PLDT customer service can't process my request of upgrading the connection to plan 1299 because the  product is new and they are not yet trained for it. According to the PLDT customer service the system does not allow upgrading at this time. I guess I'm trapped in this situation for the next 24 months.

TIPS TO AVOID THIS SCENARIO:
  1. Don't believe the Field Sales Technician, they would tell you that you need to upgrade to Ultera because  the Canopy will be phased out  PLDT sent out SMS blasts to subscribers that Canopy will be phased out by 2016. I was not at home that time when the Field Sales Technician offered the upgrade to my wife (she's the account holder). Being worried about the Canopy phase out she had no choice but to say yes.
  2. Test and monitor your internet connection. If you are not satisfied immediately call *1888 and connect to customer service tell them that you want the Ultera cancelled and ask for a reference number. Don't believe the CSR rep if he/she will tell you that the Canopy will be retained because it will be deactivated within 5 days.  
  3. Within 24 hours immediately go to the nearest PLDT Customer Service office to inform them that you want the Ultera cancelled provide the  reference number from your phone call. Don't  forget to bring the latest bill and ID. If you are not the account holder you need to create an authorization letter.
  4. Act immediately because once a request for a Canopy disconnection has been processed you might have a hard time to revert back and your next bill will have a prorated charges for the Ultera. 
I'm saying goodbye to my work from home dreams for now because most of the ISP's in the Philippines has enabled capping on wireless networks which is pretty sad because, wireless networks should be an alternative for areas that are not accessible to wired networks. My next post will be a comparison of the speed test for uLTEra and Canopy.  
I tried to connect a SMARTBro LTE sim on my Ultera and it's working. I'll be creating a review about it and for a teaser, once you put in a SmarBro LTE Prepaid sim you will be redirected to the dashboard from there you can choose the Plan that you want like 50 pesos unlisurf,  this might be an alternate solution.
Click on the link below to see the comparison of capped uLTEra 999 vs Canopy  999
http://www.callcenterfocus.com/2014/08/pldt-homebro-ultera-capped-versus.html




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