Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Real Reason Why the Internet is Slow in the Philippines


Wazzup Pilipinas!

"The main reason why Filipinos are paying more for slower internet connection compared to other countries is because PLDT acts as the country’s own backbone, able to control all the flow of internet traffic from Philippines to the outside. ISPs are also required to pay PLDT for using its ‘fake’ backbone instead of relying to real backbone service providers like PACNET to properly handle the data exchange for this country."

The lack of competition in the telecommunication industry leads to bad economic and social consequences, such as crappy services, lack of innovation and service improvement, expensive products and/or services, lack of jobs, and corporate arrogance, among many other things that would not make any Filipino happy except the oligarch that is responsible for such monopoly.

PLDT may use everything in its power to oppose and brainwash people in believing otherwise but it all boils down to who gets to gain more from the situation. We are not fools that can easily be bought by the marketing gimmicks of "free" and "unlimited" promos, or the many CSR activities supporting foundations, charitable institutions, or NGOs.

The government is fully aware of the situation yet it does not have the will power to use its authority to bring down, or at least moderate, this greed.

I am reposting this article found at reddit since I am strongly opposing the current situation - the real cause of why our Internet is too slow.

How PLDT Deliberately Keeps Local Internet Traffic Slow and More Expensive In Philippines

The international standard for Internet Service Providers (ISP) requires countries to have their own IX (Internet Exchange) point to allow faster exchange of local traffic from other local ISP customers. This is required so the traffic for that country can be shared freely from one local ISP to another with less hops, rather than having it jumped from other countries like U.S, Europe, Australia, Hong Kong, etc. resulting to low latency and broken connection. Using this system also costs less because ISPs using IX aren't required to pay anything unlike if data is passed from another third-party network.

Aside from using a unified IX, ISPs are also expected to pay for a backbone service from selected providers for outgoing traffic. In Southeast Asia, PACNET is the one in charge. Backbones are important because it let ISPs connect to mainstream internet, i.e: the world’s internet. In return, ISPs are required to pay PACNET for its service.

Below you will see how PLDT deliberately refuses to use an IX or at least, pay for a real backbone company to properly route all its data.

First Problem: PLDT Doesn’t Want To Share Its Traffic Through Peers Via Unified IX

Here in PH, we have one called Philippine Open Internet Exchange (PHOpenIX) used by all ISPs here like Infocom, Evoserve, Pacific Internet including Globe (Sky & Bayan) with the exception of PLDT (Smart) -- and this is where all the problem roots out.

Since PLDT has enough muscle in this country to dictate what it wants and disobey common standards of data routing, it chooses a different approach that will only benefit itself and not other peers like Globe.

Instead of routing data to our country's own IX, PLDT connects to Hong Kong Internet eXchange (HKIX) through its private VIX (Vitro Internet Exchange). This is a very shady practice because the data, that should originate and terminate here in Philippines, is instead, routed outside in Hong Kong just to return back to Philippines.

So instead of keeping the traffic inside Philippines, so it can be routed faster directly, PLDT deliberately chooses to route it outside our country hampering its peers like Globe to do do traffic exchange with PLDT DSL customers.

This is one of the main reasons why Globe / Sky / Bayan users connecting to GARENA has "high ping" when joining rooms. This is also the reason why overall traffic exchange, local in particular, is very slow in this country regardless how much Globe improves its network facilities.

Unfortunately, the NTC (Philippines's version of FCC) has no power to rectify the situation which is very obvious because PLDT is the country's largest telco; a company that holds more than 40% of Meralco via MPI and Beacon Electric Asset; a conglomerate that almost single-handedly owns most major newspapers in PH like Inquirer, Philstar, Interaksyon, MediaQuest, etc. Heck, it's too big, it even holds the highest chunk of power in the Philippine Stock Exchange itself. Bring this elephant down and the whole economy of PH will be fucked up.

Second Problem: PLDT Thinks It’s The Backbone

Since PLDT believes it’s the only reason why this country is able to communicate, it has enough muscle to be the country’s own ‘fake’ backbone; using its antiquated data-routing technique instead of letting real backbone providers like PACNET do all the work, a business that thrives on providing data and connectivity solutions to major Telcos in South East Asia.

Most ISPs pay for a backbone service simply because it solves all the complexities of data traffic management from one country to the next; it's faster and provides better overall bandwith for customers. As an example, PACNET spends almost a billion dollar constructing a fiber-optic submarine network that expands more than 40,000 kilometers reaching key locations in South East Asia including China with speeds ranging from 17 Terabits up to 31 Terabits (link) -- something any telcos like PLDT won't be able to afford. This kind of technology is the reason why ISPs in South East Asia are thriving with average speed of at least 10mpbs+ (S.K at 13.3mbps, Singapore at 17mbps, Hong Kong at 65 mbps). Unfortunately, PLDT doesn't want to directly pay for PACNET's blazing speed network, it instead relies to its obsolete DFON network. The result? Average internet speed for this country lies at 3mbps even worse than India or Indonesia. Take note that PLDT's network is also more expensive since it's required to build its own fiber-optic network since it's now acting as the company's backbone rather than simply 'renting' from real internet backbone providers. On this report, it shows PLDT spent 2.5 billion PHP for upgrading its Domestic Fiber Network (DFON) for that year alone. Imagine all the money saved if the company only chooses to 'rent' a real backbone service provider.

I am not sure what’s the current deal between PLDT and PACNET, but from the looks of it, ISPs here in PH are actually paying PLDT because it acts as the country’s backbone. This also explains the reason why pinoys are paying more for slow internet connection (because PLDT is spending billions of pesos for its DFON) while U.S and other countries in Europe pay less with better internet speeds because ISPs there simply rent for a backbone network, NOT build one.

Any Fix?
Enough of the rambling, let’s see if this problem is fixable. Fortunately, the answer is ‘Yes’. On this report: Globe is aware of the issue and has asked PLDT to share its traffic by opening its network to our country’s IX. Unfortunately, PLDT doesn’t give a shit and is more concerned on giving low-IQ statements.

Here’s what PLDT’s spokesperson has to say about the issue:

South Korean Internet users largely access content written in the South Korean language as well as for internet users in other major Asian markets like China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam.

That is principally why Internet traffic in these countries are largely domestic. In the case of the Philippines, we are fluent in English and are thus oriented towards overseas Internet content,” he said.

As a result, he explained that up to 90 percent of Internet traffic in the Philippines is content sourced from overseas particularly the US. “Because of that, in the case of the Philippines, domestic peering will not address complaints of slow Internet speed,” he clarified.

Based from his logic: South Korea, China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam == [Not good] in english, access non-english content most of the time; therefore, there’s a need for their ISPs to do peer exchange via unified IX.

Philippines == Good in English, access 90% english content; therefore, no need for peer exchange because pinoy customers get content outside this country, anyway.

Based from his reasoning, if a country doesn’t access english content, there’s a reason for peer-sharing. Unfortunately, he didn’t mention one important part, that is, most of if not all countries share traffic through their local ISPs regardless of what language or content their customers are accessing. This dude is adding a thick pile of horse shit, thinking it will work to all Filipinos who don’t understand basic networking.

Since when does accessing “english content” be the main reason why ISPs don’t need to exchange traffic with their peers? This mouth breather is deviating from the real problem, that is, their company is too selfish and scared that if they do peer-sharing with Globe, the Ayala-led telco will be able to provide better service than them. It’s that simple.

TL:DR: The main problem why local traffic-exchange in Philippines is on a glacial speed when you connect to one of Garena’s rooms is because, PLDT DSL doesn’t let its customers share traffic with its peers like Globe, Sky or Bayan DSL. The company intentionally keeps the exchange through its own network.

The main reason why Filipinos are paying more for slower internet connection compared to other countries is because PLDT acts as the country’s own backbone, able to control all the flow of internet traffic from Philippines to the outside. ISPs are also required to pay PLDT for using its ‘fake’ backbone instead of relying to real backbone service providers like PACNET to properly handle the data exchange for this country.

Unfortunately, there's a slim chance for PLDT to fix this because: 1) If the company connects to Philippine's IX, Globe will have the upper hand on giving better service to its customers 2) If PLDT starts paying for a real backbone service, it will lose a chunk of its profit since it's currently acting as the country's network backbone enjoying unprecedented power on dictating how traffic exchange should be structured in Philippines, setting the price for internet bandwith, plus, the annual cut it receives from ISPs paying for its 'one-of-a-kind' network.

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