The Philippines is said to be in a so-called ‘online boom’ which means more and more Filipinos are going online. In fact, according to Google Philippines’s country head, Ken Lignan, almost half of the total population of the Philippines have regular access to the Internet and that can be attributed to factors such as the rising middle class and more notably, the growing popularity of smartphones which allows access to mobile Internet.
Smartphones have begun to dominate the local mobile phone market since the third quarter of 2014 with our country having the third largest market in Southeast Asia. It is expected these devices will be more accessible in the years to come with more options becoming available at much affordable prices. With that said, more and more people are realizing that our own country, despite having increasing number of Internet users, is among the slowest when it comes to internet access, both mobile and fixed line, not only within the ASEAN, but also the whole world with speeds only averaging to 3.6 Megabits per second or Mbps compared to our neighbors such as Indonesia
with an average speed of 4.1 Mbps, or Singapore with a whopping 61 Mbps.
Aside from that, our country also sells its internet access for a certain speed at much higher prices compared to other nations. On average, service providers charge Filipinos 1,155 pesos per Mbps
a month compared to Indonesia which charges 860 pesos per Mbps a month, and Singapore asking only 134 pesos.
It’s worth noting though that Singapore is a relatively small nation which means setting up the infrastructure for Internet access is much easier compared to an archipelago such as the Philippines. Nevertheless, our internet situation has become very frustrating for many Filipino netizens, myself included. I’m very sure I’m not the only one who has experienced having a very slow internet connection especially at times when we need it. Sending large files online would be a very difficult task and most often, hope that the recipient won’t get a corrupted file after spending hours watching the upload progress. Online gamers would experience laggy gameplay when the connection is unstable.
Watching online videos would buffer if our internet speed is not fast enough. Maybe these are the reasons why we can’t fully adopt online apps. Our means of going online are not that reliable yet.
It appears that even some politicians at the Senate are are frustrated with their Internet access that they have started an investigation on it. The fact that the national government is looking into this means that having Internet access is becoming a necessity alongside mobile telecommunications. I believe there is at least some acknowledgment on the part of our government that having a decent internet access is needed.
Believe it or not, we’ve taken baby steps to finally address our online concerns.
Recently, a major telecommunications company offering internet access in our country has finally agreed to be part of the Philippine Open Internet Exchange otherwise known as PHOpenIX which is maintained by the Advanced Science and Technology Institute under the Department of Science and Technology. What that means for us internet users is that expect that accessing government websites will be significantly faster as data would no longer need to travel outside the country and return back to load the online content.
The National Telecommunications Commission has also begun testing the internet speed of major service providers in Metro Manila to determine whether these companies pare providing the speed they are advertising. Should the results of testing show that the average is below the advertised, the service provider has to inform its subscribers that it can only offer speed up to the one that appear on the result.
Indeed, these are commendable first steps. However, the road to a better internet connection is still a long and bumpy one. More people are needed to show Congress and internet service providers, that we want better access to the internet. We should justify to them why having good internet is needed.
Elsewhere in the world, some places such as in Silicon Valley are maximizing the internet for developing new technologies. The Philippines may be left behind in the newest technological innovations if our internet situation does not improve.
We cannot fully enjoy the benefits of new media without a reliable internet access.
𝙋𝙪𝙗𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙝𝙚𝙙 𝙙𝙖𝙩𝙚: 𝙊𝙘𝙩𝙤𝙗𝙚𝙧, 2015.