February 25, 2018, 10:09 am
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PH internet becoming more affordable

The country’ mobile and fixed broadband services have become more affordable in recent years,  according to the latest report released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The ITU’s “Measuring the Information Society 2017” report calculates, among others, prices of telecommunications services as a percentage of a country’s gross national income per capita (GNI pc) per month. GNI measures income received by a country both domestically and from overseas. 

According to the two-volume report, the Philippines’ mobile cellular prices (defined as the average cost of 100 SMS and 30 mobile calls per month) are 3.2 percent of the country’s average monthly GNI per capita in 2016, down from 3.42 percent the previous year. 

The 2016 figure is also at par with the Asia and the Pacific region’s average of 3.2 percent and well below the world average of 5.2 percent.

The ITU report also said fixed broadband prices (monthly subscription to an entry-level fixed-broadband plan, based on a monthly data usage of 1 GB minimum) are at 7.1 percent of GNI per capita, down from 7.53 percent in 2015. This figure is well below the regional average of 14.5 percent and the global average of 13.9 percent.

Mobile broadband prices for 500 MB and 1GB worth of data, on the other hand, each make up 2.1 percent of the GNI per capita. Both figures are lower than the Asia Pacific averages of 2.7 percent and 5.4 percent respectively, and the world averages of 3.7 percent and 6.8 percent respectively.

Between 2015 and 2016, mobile-broadband services for 1GB data in particular have become more affordable, dropping by 4..64-percentage-points from 6.74 percent to 2.1 percent 

Put another way, this means that for every P100 in monthly GNI, every Filipino spends only P3.20 in mobile-cellular services, P7.10 in fixed broadband services, and P2.10 for either 500MB or 1GB data in mobile-broadband.

Mobile data prices in the country for example fell nearly 70 percent from 2015 to 2016 as mobile operators pushed mobile broadband services more aggressively, the ITU report noted.

Compared to Indonesia, which is also an archipelagic country, the Philippines’ mobile-cellular and fixed-broadband prices as percentage of GNI per capita are more affordable than Indonesia’s 3.3 percent and 10.6 percent respectively, while mobile-broadband prices for 1GB data in the two countries are almost the same (2.1 percent vs 2 percent )

“Despite having a largely duopoly market, the country has achieved a high level of basic mobile access and has deployed the latest wireless and fixed technologies with high download speeds, at least in urban areas. It is also well endowed with international Internet bandwidth driven by its large overseas population and burgeoning business process outsourcing industry,” ITU concluded.

The Philippines has “achieved a high level of GSM mobile coverage, with most ICT services provided in a duopoly environment,” ITU said in its country profile for the Philippines. 

The country’s 3G coverage includes 93 percent of the population—a figure larger than the regional average of 87.6 percent and the world average of 85 percent .

LTE or 4G/Wimax services, on the other hand, cover 80 percent of the Philippine population according to ITU figures—also above the regional average of 73.6 percent and the world average of 66.5 percent.

 Philippines mobile market has undergone ongoing consolidation . In 2000, there were ten licensed operators but by 2016, the market was largely a duopoly between the incumbent operator (Smart) under the group Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), and Globe Telecom, whose main shareholders are the local Ayala Corpora on and Singapore Telecom
 
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