WHILE Filipino cyber-users fume and seethe over the country’s slow internet data connection, Information Secretary Gregorio Honasan yesterday told lawmakers that he believes that the Philippines’ internet speed is not that bad despite being left behind by other countries.
Honasan, a former senator and rebel soldier, defended the country’s average internet speed of three to seven megabits per second (Mbps), which is a far cry from other countries’ average of 55 Mbps.
“We offer no excuses, we take full responsibility. Sa ibang bansa pumapalo sila ng 55 Mbps, tayo naglalaro between three and seven, pero hindi na po ito masama (The internet speed in other countries is at an average of 55 Mbps, while we range from three to four. But this is not bad at all,” Honasan told the House committee on appropriations during the proposed P46 billion budget for 2021 of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
DICT Assistant Secretary Emmanuel Caintic said the country’s fixed broadband speed was only at 7.91 Mbps in 2016 but it reached 25.07 Mbps this year. For mobile, the internet speed is now at 6.95 Mbps.
While it is a huge improvement, Caintic said the DICT is not bragging about it since other countries’ fixed broadband speed is 213.18 Mbps and 56.43 Mbps for mobile.
Cahintig said the DICT will need P17 billion to improve the internet system in the country by setting up fiber optic cables across the country, down to the 81 provinces.
He lamented though, that only P902 million is allocated for the undertaking in the 2021 budget.
Cahintig said there is a need to “fire up the national highway” or the fiber optic cable of the national grid and then set-up microwave radio towers.
A displeased House deputy majority leader Bernadette Herrera of Bagong Henerasyon party-list called for a congressional inquiry into what she called was a “sad state” of internet speed and connectivity in the country.
“As the COVID-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 No. 1193.
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 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 said.
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 fast internet plan with a speed of 890 Mbps in Russia and 600 Mbps in China and Lithuania. However, in the Philippines, a $20 plan is only enough for a 5 Mbps internet speed.