REPOST: ISPs in Philippines – the real facts and why you should care

Link to original article: Click here 

tl;dr version: (not in order) Ping is not reliable, PLDT sucks, Garena needs to spend more on connectivity, use WinMTR instead of tracert, government needs public IX.

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

Published in Globe, PLDT, Utility Companies


  1. Profile gravatar of CebuBear

    Why would PLDT, owned by Chinoys, be any dfferent from every other Chinoy owned business here? The arrogant racism they display is rampant. You are so lucky I have this business and I let you come and spend your money here. If it weren’t for me and how brilliant I am you would not be able to have this store/service! This is the mindset of these people. There is nothing more arrogant or disgusting than a rich flip, except maybe a rich Chinoy Flip. The rich oligarchs that own the infrastructure and bias the laws to protect their monopolies and hegemony think of everyone else as their servants. We are here to serve them. For decades the chinoy who owned Philippine Airlines manipulated the govt airlanes legislation to make it too costly for any other carrier to fly here… now very few major carriers bother, preferring to code share via Singapore, HK or BKK. The country is a joke, but such a pathetic one who can bother to laugh?

    1. Profile gravatar of mike-test

      sorry but are we resorting to another blame game? next thing we know we’re blaming the spanish, americans, etc etc for what the failippines had become and what not.

    2. Profile gravatar of mike-test

      i believe the filipinos actually do have the power to change the course of the failed nation every election if they chooses to use their heads (if they had one). and if there is one industry that i’d like to blame its the media. it constantly bombard the pinoys w. craps that it became the norms. turning pinoys into emo freaks and zombies. ey-bee-es is owned by a flip just in case you don’t know.

  2. Profile gravatar of TheD

    To put it lightly, the system here is fucked.
    Any other country I have worked in had its own backbone. So the connection would go: You >> Your ISP >> Country Backbone >> International Backbone >> Destination Country Backbone >> Server Network >> Server.

    But as the Philippines has no backbone (which is a pun in itself) it can not do that.

    I was asked by a Philippine host to talk to them about why my server is all the way away in the USA. The simple explanation is that its location provides no less than 3 direct connections to the biggest backbone in the world.
    The Philippine host told me that they too have the same connections. I laughed. They would lie and tell you any crap just to get the sale.

    What they have here is the Philippine Internet Exchange which is an agreement (mentioned by the poster) where the different companies pass data to each other. Make no mistake, this is not a backbone, not even close.

    I do not consider the existing systems in the Philippines a backbone because the speeds are far too slow. The 3 connections I have to the internet from my server are 100Gbps each. It is load balanced, so in total I have 300Gbps.

    On another note, I recently noticed that Globe is using an internal network for their customers and then share an IP over thousands of customers at the same time. People with infected computers are flagged by Google who log the IP and block it which results in thousands of people being unable to access google for an hour or two.
    I also noticed that Globe is preventing me from changing my DNS so I could use a different DNS such as google DNS.

    I also found out that when I ping google from Globe or PLDT, the IP returned is in the Philippines. After investigating I confirmed that Google does not host anything in the Philippines. The ISPs are falsely altering the data so that the IP used when pinging google is local and therefore the ping seems reasonable. This is nothing less than fraudulent activity.

    1. Profile gravatar of Marius O.
      Marius O.

      Lying and cheating is the standard way of doing business here because Filipinos fundamentally do not grasp what business is. They think of it as some sort of zero-sum game where one person necessarily comes off worse than the other. The idea of an exchange for mutual benefit (or general benefit to society) is utterly alien to them.

      Most smart people can figure out that the best business transaction is one in which both people get what they want. It’s also (often) the most profitable in the long term, because your customer clamours for more. Even better if you can deliver some positive externality to your country in the process.

      Try explaining that to a Filipino and watch him bluescreen.

      1. Profile gravatar of Captain PFB
        Captain PFB Post author

        Incredibly well stated. This makes perfect logical sense to you and me. But to the Filipino, as you said, this concept is completely alien, thus the reason there is no customer service at all in this land of totally brainless turds. Oh they have people that will argue with you, and try to blame you for the problem, which they label “customer service”. But it’s not customer service at all. It’s customer inconvenience. The Filipino operates by whatever bullshit he can vomit out of his mouth, and his behavior and actions almost NEVER match his words.

        Love the “Try explaining that to a Filipino and watch him bluescreen.”, I chuckled out loud reading that.

      2. Profile gravatar of Stu Pidasso
        Stu Pidasso

        Ever been shopping for electronics on Nathan Road HK? Or for secondary items like batteries of HDV tapes? And the shop you go to is out of stock but he quickly calls another store down the road (Technically a competitor) and an assistant brings you what you asked for in 5 minutes. It’s an understood network of mutual backscratching and co-operation that ensures customer satisfaction and it works for everyone in turn.

        Been to the Cyberzone (or whatever it’s called) at Megamall and after the ‘out of stock’ wall you ask “Can you tell me where is another store that might carry this item”…..BLANK STARE and LYING HEAD SHAKE. Although they know of half a dozen.

        That is Pinoy business mentality. So I find the next shop that HAS what I want and find out that, of course, they all know each other but will never help you by recommending their competition. Selfish narrow sighted parasites!