Philippines govt must act to improve internet services, senator says

7 Dec 2015

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means, has again urged the government of President Benigno Aquino to do more to improve the poor state of the country’s internet services, The Manila Bulletin writes. Angara says more must be done to prioritise e-commerce and help micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) bolster their global web presence, pointing to the Philippines’ poor showing in a 2015 study by internet performance data provider Ookla, which found that it has the second slowest download speeds among 22 Asian countries profiles, next to Afghanistan. Ookla’s findings suggest that in the Philippines average download internet speeds are around 3.64Mbps – significantly below the average broadband speed of 23.30Mbps – leaving the nation languishing at 176th place out of 202 countries across the world. Despite the senator’s assertion that Filipinos are ‘known to be big users of social media and given the amount of time we spend on the web … will no doubt embrace online shopping,’ access costs are also proving a barrier to entry. Average internet costs of USD18.19 per 1Mbps are, he notes, far above the global average of USD5.21.

Earlier this year the telecoms industry watchdog, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), introduced new rules governing broadband internet connection speeds. It stipulated that broadband be classified as a data connection speed of at least 256kbps, but some argue that this figure should be much higher. For example, interactive media specialist Carlos Nazareno of the group Philippine Flash Actionscripters has argued that, in today’s market, 256kbps is little more than dial-up and as such is inadequate when dealing with the current size of Web pages (e.g. 2MB/3MB). This position has been supported by other key groups in the tech sector, including the Philippine Web Designers Organization, Game Developer’s Association of the Philippines, Philippine Game Development Community, and the Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance.