Our Internet is Fast, We Just Can’t Afford It
Earlier this week, we broke the story that NAIA Terminals are all getting 1Gbps WiFi, making it one of the fastest in any commercial terminals in the world. This brought up the discussion on why is the average broadband internet in the Philippines still the slowest in the region.
It has always been a normal feedback by any subscriber that internet in the Philippines is slow. This is supported by several studies and publicly available information from the likes of Akamai and Ookla which if often cited in news reports.
The latest report from Akamai puts this number at 3.5Mbps as of the first quarter of 2016. This pales in comparison with that of our neighboring countries like Singapore, HK, Taiwan and South Korea where the speeds are blazing fast.
Let’s take a step back and define the “internet” in this context. There are actually two modes when we talk of internet connectivity – one is mobile internet which we would normally refer to as 3G, 4G or LTE; the second one is wired internet which is normally delivered via DSL using legacy copper lines, cable internet and fiber connection which is becoming the norm.
What I’d like to focus on in this article is the second mode which is the wired connection.
If you looked at the broadband plans of most of the internet providers are still offering 2Mbps or 3Mbps. These would normally be offered at Php999 to Php1,299.
In a 3rd-world country where majority of the population is below poverty and the purchasing power of the working-class Filipino is much lower than most other Asians, it would only make sense that new subscribers can only afford the base plan.
With majority of broadband subscribers only getting 2Mbps or 3Mbps, it’s no wonder why the average internet speeds is within the vicinity of this broadband plan.
However, for several years now, a number of ISPs are already offering fiber internet. They started offering 20Mbps, 50Mbps to 100Mbps connections but recently, the broadband plans have even reached 1Gbps. Of course, not all areas have fiber coverage and the first ones to get them are the more affluent subdivisions and condominiums.
Lately though, I’ve been getting feedback from a number of friends and colleagues that they are able to get fiber internet in the outskirts such as Valenzuela or Taytay, Rizal. My old apartment in Bangkal, Makati is also getting fiber this month (along Evangelista St., and up to 250 meters from the main line). I’m fortunate to get up to 20Mbps for about Php1,500 a month in that area (via Converge).
For most of the people who want faster internet, it’s just not available in their area. And, even if fiber internet is available, most people cannot afford to spend Php3k to 10k for 50Mbps to 1Gbps connection.
In reality, we already have very fast internet in the Philippines. It’s just that most subscribers cannot afford it.
The best and fastest way to take the Philippines out of the “slowest internet in the world” title is for ISPs to basically upgrade every subscriber who is on 2Mbps and just give them at least 20Mbps for the same basic fee of Php999. That alone would catapult the Philippines the the Top 10 Fastest Internet in the World. But that’s just my suggestion.
In a way, there is truth when people say we need more competition so we can get better or faster internet in the Philippines. A new player can come in and offer 20Mbps at Php999 and eventually existing players will follow suit. In fact, even any one of the existing internet service providers might just go crazy and offer these kind of speeds at base prices and we’ll see everyone else doing the same in less than a year.