What’s our pain?

Twenty three years on, the Philippines still ranks at the bottom of Asian countries on speed and pricing. There is a lot of blame going around. No matter who is at fault, let us take another tack. Instead of complaining, let’s work together and solve this. How?

Have you heard of the “Hawthorne Effect”? Wikipedia defines it as a type of reaction where people modify their behaviors in response to their awareness of being watched. This is similar to the saying “You get what you measure”.

If the Hawthorne effect holds true for the Philippine internet, then it follows that by measuring the bandwidth, we get better internet. This is the idea.Bandwidth and Signal Strength

In the past, we could not measure bandwidth. So no one thought of monitoring it for the entire country. Yet, things have changed. Mobile phones have more abilities now. We can use them to measure speeds and signal strengths. We can use them to collect the data. We can analyze and extract insights. We can “crowd source” for volunteers. Collectively you and I can now measure bandwidth and signal strength of each carrier at ANY location at ANY time. We just need a measurement tool and a server to collect the data.

BASS stands for Bandwidth And Signal Strength monitoring tool. BASS volunteers crafted an easy to use Android app for phones with OS v5.1 and above. We made this free. And made it as Winthrop Yu puts it: “lightweight & uses minimal time and data”.It was a pleasure to work with this fantastic group of volunteers. As OllayRullan said “they carved out chunks of their time” to make this tool available.

Goals and benefits to Stakeholders: Our overriding goal was to create a better internet for all stakeholders. For Carriers, they get free access to the collected data for issue isolation. Carriers could re-route surplus bandwidth to more needy areas. For handset makers, they now have actual data to compare field performance of each of their units. For end users, the bandwidth map guides them in making their purchasing decisions. For digital businesses, the bandwidth map helps them target their business offerings more. For the government regulators, BASS provides “supplemental 3rd party data that is free”.


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The colored circles represent the number of measurements by BASS users. Blue represents a small cluster of measurements while red indicates a larger cluster. Pink has the highest cluster of measurements. Yellow has measurements done with Wi-Fi and not with a carrier. When zoomed into a cluster: Bandwidth, signal strength, connection type, and telco are revealed. Higher bandwidth means faster internet. The best signal strength, according to Wilson Chua, is -40 and the worst is -200.