We’ll find a way to find out. —Rogue One
Their continued inability---through structural weakness or conscious defiance of an Executive intent and a popular demand to address the snail paced—Internet in the country-- takes international stage and into the spotlight this week as the country plays host to the ASEAN Summit.
No thanks to the local telecommunications companies which are also the main Internet service providers.
As world leaders, ASEAN heads of state, their deputies, other delegates, participants, and observers settle in, log on and try to get connected, they would personally validate what they have only been hearing or reading from media---one of the slowest, if not the slowest Internet service on the planet.
What until this week was only a national embarrassment now becomes an international shame.
Take a bow Globe and PLDT. We are truly world class---as cyber-laggards, that is.
No longer the Sick Man of Asia but still the laughingstock of the world.
If that is not reason enough to make President Duterte upset, this should render him thoroughly outraged.
Now, we know that he is not the most powerful man in the land and that his office is not the most powerful entity.
The telcos are: Globe and PLDT are seemingly locked in a ridiculous race in reverse---for the distinction of who has the slower Internet service.
Foot dragging—by the two telco titans had long been noted by netizens, lawmakers, business and industry chambers, international leaders, and multilateral organizations.
Of course, the loudest denunciation came from no less than the President himself who, in countless policy speeches over several months, threatened to open up the industry to new international players if the locals don’t play catch up.
“I’m just suffering all of this but if you cannot do it right, you wait, I’m going to China and I’ll open everything for competition,” the President said a few months ago.
Two lady lawmakers ---Senators Grace Poe and Nancy Binay---shared the presidential sentiment, threatening legislative sanctions, possibly franchise cancellation, if the telcos don’t shape up.
"It's a pity hearing the same old complaints about speed, affordability and coverage in the age of fast technology," Poe said.
Already, there are several bills pending before the Senate and the House of Representatives seeking wide-ranging reforms in the telecommunications industry to improve internet and mobile services in the country and make them at par with international standards.
Then Philippine Competition Commission came out with a stinging indictment of the sloppiness pervading the telco industry, a policy position also taken by the National Economic and Development Authority.
“The public continues to complain of slow, expensive and poor quality of internet and mobile services. If anything, this has further fueled our determination to safeguard the market and promote the interests of consumers,” the anti-trust body stressed.
Online retail magnate and billionaire Jack Ma came to town and rubbed it in---only a faster Internet can boost local businesses, including the nascent medium, small, and micro enterprises and the booming local online retail business.
"I arrived late last night and I tried to test the speed of Philippine internet... It's no good," the Chinese tycoon said.
But the most embarrassing, humiliating commentary of all came from the World Bank. The latest WB ranking placed the country way below some African and other Third World nations, including those recently ravaged by war, in terms of ease of doing business.
The slowness of the country’s Internet service was among those factors cited by the WB as heavily weighing down on Manila’s scorecard.
In terms of average peak connection speeds, the Philippines is second lowest, just above India. While India has an average peak connection speed of 41.4 Mbps, the Philippines has an average peak connection speed of 45 Mbps, according to Akamai Technologies' Global State of the Internet Report.
So, there. Our shame is complete.
At least now, it can be proudly said---boasted even---that the country has three main attractions for foreign dignitaries and tourists: the legendary Filipino hospitality, natural beauty and diversity, and Internet unreliability.
Behold God’s glory and seek His mercy.
Pause and pray, people.