Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Cheap Mobile Internet Whilst Visiting the Philippines

Just back from our holidays in the Philippines and I admit this one is more enjoyable than the previous, specially in terms of food (how I love theVikings from SM north ) trip and other activities (swimming to the max at Ilocos). There was no problem encountered except the usual internet connection whilst on the move specially when the kids want to update their social statuses or get the latest gossip from their friends. This need to be solved to avoid unnecessary mobile data expenditures that always victimizes unsuspecting holiday makers that potentially rake up a bill of hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

How not to overspend on data tariff whilst on vacation?

This is a complex question but with a simple solution! It is complex in the sense that there are many tariffs available and if you are not familiar with MB's and GB's of data, you will not be able to choose the best tariff, specially if you use the internet everytime. If there are 4 parties to use the internet, you do not need to buy 4 SIM cards and 4 tariffs to enjoy unlimited internet. In fact you can internet power at least 4 devices with just 50PHP a day, with unlimited traffic. Here's how.

a. Buy a local sim card

If your smartphone is SIM free you can buy a local SIM card and replace it with your home SIM.

How to know your phone is SIM free? If your phone is with contract and it is not an iPhone, then it is 100% SIM free. iPhone tends to be network locked even if it is with a contract. But you can ask your operator to give you the unlock software over the air (OTA). You can request this at anytime and depending on your network's policy.

A local sim card plus a load of 500PHP under Globe network is available when you get out from the plane. Just ask at any desk and they can point you to a nearest vending machine or sales representative that sell sim from any network. I use globe network because almost all of my contacts in the Philippines are using globe network.

Most of the SIM cards available are with the old form factor (full size). This means it is not compatible with the newest iPhone variants (iPhone 5) and other mobile phones that use nano SIM card. If this is the only phone you have, you might not easily find this kind of SIM inside the airport. And if your phone takes micro SIM card, it is best to buy a SIM card cutter before you travel.

I always bring along my card cutter with me as my Samsung uses micro card. You can buy this from below.

b. Setting up the globe SIM card. 

To reload airtime to the Globe SIM card, follow the following steps

  • Dial 223 and press SEND.
  • Enter the Call & Text Card No. and press #.
  • Enter the Call & Text Card PIN and press #.

A voice prompt will then confirm that the reload attempt is successful.

c. Set up mobile internet.

Once the airtime is available, you can activate internet settings by buying surfing allowance.

  • Do this by dialing *143# then send
  • Choose 3 Surf Promos>send, 6 Supersurf>send, 1 Supersurf 50>send
*Supersurf 50 is an unlimited internet tariff, tethering included, for one day for 50PHP only. If you are tethering for other devices, this is the best tariff for you.

  • Choose 1 subscribe> a confirmation message will be received. The internet settings should be automatically set up at this point.
  • If the internet settings is not automatically set up, dial *143# then choose 3 and send, then choose 8 Get Internet Settings and send. This will show you how to go through the settings.

  • You will know that the internet settings is working if you have this icon at the top.

  • If this it is not active, make sure your phone's mobile data usage is turned on. On android, swipe the top of the phone downwards and check if it is turned on.

d. Share your internet connection

Here's where the savings is. Imagine for 50PHP, roughly 69pence, you can internet enable at least 4 persons in one day without limit. This is usable when the parties using it do not stream videos. To enable this, turn on the phone's tethering service.

  • On an android phone, tap tethering and portable hotspot then turn on portable WIFI hot spot. For easier access with other devices, just adjust the security to open, then save.

e. Use MAC filtering to limit connected devices

Although the connection do not have security, you can control which device to connect by choosing connection type to "only allowed devices". You can then configure which device by entering manually the name of the device and the MAC address to gain access to the portable hotspot. For me, this is easier to manage than setting and giving out passwords. To do this, follow the following.

  • Tap the name of your connection(1) and configure it to allowed devices only(2).
  • Then configure it (3) to open(4). This will be easier for the allowed devices to connect. 
  • Add the devices to connect by tapping Allowed Devices(5), tap the + sign to add a device.
  • Enter the Device Name by finding the name at about device, and the MAC address(7) can be seen by tapping status and scrolling down to the WIFI MAC address.

You can add up to 4 devices or more, depending on the usage of every connected device, you can add more and get unlimited internet for a day for the cheap price of 50PHP.

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