A HOUSE leader on Tuesday sought a congressional inquiry into what she called “sad state” of internet speed and connectivity in the country.
House Deputy Majority Leader and Bagong Henerasyon (BH) party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera lamented that while the Philippines has one of the slowest internet speeds in the world, it charges relatively high rates for the service that has become an essential commodity amid the worst public health crisis of this generation.
“As the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease-19) pandemic struck, fast, efficient and stable internet access is not only needed for communication and access to information, it also plays an important role in managing business operations, exploring novel sources of personal income, and continuity of education,” Herrera said as she filed House Resolution (HR) 1193.
In the resolution, Herrera wants the appropriate House committee to find out why the country’s internet connection is relatively slow and expensive.
The party-list lawmaker cited the recent Speedtest Global Index for Mobile Internet, which showed the Philippines ranking 113th out of 117 countries with its average speed of 16.95 megabits per second (Mbps). The country also ranked 109th in the fixed broadband category with an average speed of 25.07 Mbps.
“In both cases, the Philippines’ internet speeds are far slower than the average global speed of 34.51 Mbps for mobile and 81.46 Mbps for fixed broadband,” Herrera pointed out.
She noted that despite the slow speeds, the Philippine internet is significantly more expensive, according to the December 2019 report by the Daily Guardian.
In that report, a base cost of US$20 was applied and showed that US$20 is enough to afford a super-fast internet plan at 890 Mbps in Russia and 600 Mbps in China and Lithuania. While in the Philippines, a $20 plan would provide a 5 Mbps internet speed.
Moreover, Herrera said the Philippines is failing in internet inclusivity based on the 2020 study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit, where it ranked 63rd out of 100 countries surveyed.
In the same study, the country placed 57th in internet availability, 82nd in affordability and 59th in relevance and readiness. The Philippines also placed 19th out of 26 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
Herrera could not agree more with the World Bank’s observation on the urgent need for the Philippines to upgrade its digital infrastructure to keep up with the “new normal” brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
“According to the World Bank Philippine Economic Update June 2020 edition, to successfully embrace the new normal, the Philippine digital infrastructure needs to be urgently and substantially improved to ensure resilient and affordable internet service,” Herrera said.