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Hi all, I’m a foreigner living in Manila that has spent the last 15 years building large scale networks in Europe, with a heavy focus on northern Europe. I apologize in advance that I do not speak Tagalog (yet) so I’m only able to write this in English.

I’ve read a lot of posts here on the forums, and although they are mostly well meant, most are factually wrong. I contribute this to lack of knowledge in terms of carrier grade networking so it’s completely understandable so let’s start by defining what lag (latency) is. Also this is focused at our specific situation – playing LoL in Philippines.

For a game such as LoL you have 4 layers of possible latency:

1) Consumer end (PC/Router/Bandwidth)
2) ISP
3) Interconnect/Transit
4) Server end (Servers, load balancers etc.)

To measure latency end-to-end ICMP echo (PING) packets are not a reliable tool. There are many reasons for this but for us the main reason is that ICMP is a down prioritized packet type. Historically the ping tool was meant to see if a host was alive, not to measure connectivity – the reason it does have response times were to identify possible routing errors or DNS IP mixups. Remember this tool is older than most people playing LoL.

On Windows ‘tracert’ uses ICMP echo requests to probe the route of the connection to your destination. If you do want to trace the route using ICMP echo I can recommend WinMTR as a replacement for tracert that is a lot faster and more accurate. WinMTR can be found here. The UNIX version has an option to do UDP based packets which is more relevant for us as UDP is usually used in online gaming because of reduced latency and overhead as compared to TCP.

In Europe the infrastructure and government laws are usually very good and the laws enforced. This means that the most common causes of latency is on the consumer end. People mostly have ADSL connections and forget they have something running in the background (seeding is the main culprit in most cases) as with ADSL when you saturate your uplink you obliterate your downlink. But here in Philippines there are a lot of other causes for latency for us gamers – the worst being PLDT – yes you read that right, PLDT is intentionally disrupting online gaming in the Philippines. I will explain in greater detail below.

PLDT (and SMART) are actively fighting interconnect laws here in the Philippines. This is done mostly because of the mobile market but internet (and thus gaming) suffers as a result. Because SMART (and with the purchase of Sun) has the dominant market share, they are not interested in interconnecting with other Telcos, but specifically they do not want Globe subscribers to be satisfied with Globe so they will switch to SMART – this is why they are limiting the interconnect between PLDT and Globe, they are essentially throttling the data exchange between the companies. This is against the law here in Philippines but as with a lot of other things here, money talks – morale walks. I assume you’ve experienced long delays on texting between Globe/SMART? 

Here is a recent article on the problem.

Keep in mind that that interconnection is standard in other markets and I’ve never come across any other Telco being as manipulative towards their customers as PLDT/SMART.

So what does SMS delays have to do with LoL latency you ask? Well the biggest problem here is that by default PLDT routes all domestic traffic via an IX in HK. This means if you send data between a PLDT DSL subscriber and any other major ISP here it goes via a Hong Kong Internet eXchange. There is a law passed in Philippines that all ISPs have to interconnect freely via an Internet eXchange so data can flow freely between the customers of the ISPs. Mind you this does not mean that a Globe/Sky/Bayan/Eastern customer can access data/servers outside PLDTs network, through PLDTs network – this is entirely between customers of the ISPs. This is common practice all over the world, even in dictatorships – except in Philippines.

ISPs buy transit traffic through backbone providers like PACNET, Level3, UUNet etc. – these are the services that connect your ISP to the world, it’s too expensive for all ISPs to run their own international backbone fibers.

Because of PLDTs enormous power they have been able to defy the laws of interconnection and because of this keep prices up and bandwidth down as a whole in Philippines. I’m not saying that the other Telcos here are angels but at least their obey the law of interconnection. Doesn’t it seem odd that Philippines is so far behind in terms of bandwidth/price for internet? It’s literally 10 year behind Europe in it’s current state.

It’s worth noting that Globe has a stake in the worlds most powerful sea fiber. This is why PLDT is scared that if they loose their stranglehold on the consumers here that they will realize that the competitor offers a superior product. Unfortunately Globe has some of the least educated support staff/customer service in Philippines so it’s not all roses on the ‘other side’.

I can give you a concrete example of how full PLDT is of themselves – I was involved in a project in Philippines (which is when I fell in love with the country and moved here afterwards) that also involved PACNET. I was dumbfounded why the routing in Philippines was all over the place, I was trying to understand whom or what was the cause of this terrible infrastructure so I could fix it, eventually I narrowed it down to PLDT being incompetent. As I met with the senior technicians from PACNET regarding a multi-gigabit transit setup here in Manila I asked them why PLDTs routing was all over the place, as they are the major operator it was important for us to have good connectivity with PLDT. The PACNET technician and the senior sales manager explained to me that of all the countries they do business in, Philippines was the only place where a Telco willing and carelessly broke conventional international norms. PACNET had been dumbfounded when PLDT asked PACNET to pay PLDT when PLDT wanted to buy backbone capacity from PACNET. Their reasoning was that without PLDT you could not service the general public in Philippines properly so that’s why PLDT should get money for allowing their customers direct access to PACNET. I’ll let that sink in a little.

PACNET is a company who’s main business is SELLING backbone capacity across South East Asia and PLDT wanted PACNET to pay so PLDT could get backbone capacity from PACNET. It is so stupid that it completely blows my mind.

Everything else they explain perfectly matched what I had seen examining the Philippines’ internet infrastructure. Unfortunately to remedy this situation you need non-corrupt representatives that also understands technology or the need for improving the infrastructure as a whole in Philippines – not being able to vote here was a relief as I doubt there are any.

To summarize:

Garena needs to supply us with an IP where we can do UDP based pings to have reliable connectivity diagnostics.

If Garena is relying solely on the standard connectivity at VITRO (ePLDT), then they need to invest in their own connectivity to Globe and Bayan/Sky.

The Filipino government needs to create a unified IX, that mandates you have to interconnect a certain bandwidth pr. subscriber with a minimum bandwidth of 1 Gigabit. Make it so that you loose the right to do Telco services if you are not connected to the public IX. (this would solve all connectivity issues for someone like Garena at zero cost to Garena and all other companies doing online services in Philippines).

Feel free to ask any questions – I have a lot of knowledge in this field, and I’ve skipped some parts of it here as my post would end up too lengthy, if it isn’t already too long – in fact I’ll put a tl;dr in the top 

Additional info here in 2 posts:…l=1#post842031


  1. Profile gravatar of L. "Dead Man Walking" K.
    L. "Dead Man Walking" K.

    I played LoL Garena here in the philippines for like 3 months probably 2 days a week just for fun with some local friends ive made.

    Your article explains why LoL has “OMG WTF IS GOING ON WITH THIS LAG (usualy pldt users only)” once or twice a month.

    Good read. I’ll try forwarding this article to my decent filipino friends and see what they think. This will go viral!

  2. Profile gravatar of Marius O.
    Marius O.

    Fascinating article mate. Watch your back though because PLDT probably don’t want people to know stuff like this.

    >> Doesn’t it seem odd that Philippines is so far behind in terms of bandwidth/price for internet? It’s literally 10 year behind Europe in it’s current state.

    Yet another consequence of closed markets and protected monopolies. Pretty much like North Korea, really. However,

    >> It is so stupid that it completely blows my mind.
    Unfortunately, it makes complete sense to a typical spoiled-brat Filipino “businessman”, who thinks other people should pay him simply for being so awesome. Realistically, what they were probably hinting at was the need for a large payoff to one particular person, not to PLDT per se.

    So what was the outcome of that? Did the deal go through? Or did PACNET tell them where they could shove it (I hope they did – if people didn’t indulge these scumbags, it would do a lot to get rid of the problem).

    Government won’t do anything about this because it’s irrelevant to them. Their aim is merely the maximum rate of wealth extraction from the populace, and poor service achieves that just as effectively as good service; at the end of the day PLDT ends up paying much the same in taxes and bribes in either case, and that’s all that matters.

  3. Profile gravatar of SpatandemOhgod

    i play lol so badly im hooked on that shit, i play so much..i went to gold but my absolutely shitty connection meant that i disconnected here too much, i played on several connections..and most were shitter than ….shit itself..! someimts i experienced an earthquake or brownout but nothing was worse than playing ranked and actually relying on your isp keeping you connected with any regularity. it is was and will forever be a shit experience, i actually play weaRING A CONDOOM TO AVOID ANY EXTRA PROBLEMS