‘Not so bad’ internet speed is ‘not so good’

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    SENATORS yesterday chided Information Secretary Gregorio Honasan, a former senator himself, for his stance that the country’s slow internet speed connectivity was “not so bad” despite trailing behind other countries.

    Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Honasan’s statement was disappointing.

    “With all due respect to a highly-regarded Cavalier and distinguished former Senate colleague, ‘not so bad’ may sound worse that ‘not so good.’ In the middle of a pandemic when the order of the day is virtual communication, what we want to hear, at least realistically, is ‘good enough’,” Lacson said.

    Honasan, during the House hearing into the proposed P46-billion budget of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) for 2021, told lawmakers that the country’s average internet speed of three to seven Mbps was “not so bad.”

    “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 had said.

    Lacson rejected the Cabinet secretary’s resigned attitude.

    Lacson said the DICT could do better: “It goes without saying, ‘very good’ or even ‘excellent’ is what we all want to hear from DICT. Clearly, there is much room for improvement.”

    Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara said the government in general, and the DICT in particular, must take decisive steps to improve the country’s dismal internet connectivity, its coverage, and affordability.

    “The national broadband program is a step in the right direction towards these goals,” Angara said, stressing that the nationwide internet connectivity speed should be “excellent” so the public can keep up with the demands of the new normal in the use of computers in virtual communication.

    Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Honasan was being conservative on his assessment of the country’s internet speed.

    “He was being conservative. He could not say it was good, but also [could] not say really bad,” Sotto said.

    DICT Assistant Secretary Emmanuel Caintic had told lawmakers that the country’s fixed broadband speed was only at 7.91 Mbps in 2016 but reached 25.07 Mbps this year. For mobile, the internet speed is now at 6.95 Mbps.

    Caintic admitted that the numbers are not impressive as he acknowledged that the fixed broadband speed of other countries has been recorded at 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. However, only P902 million has been allocated for the undertaking in the 2021 budget.