MANILA – A digital media expert revealed that much internet use in the country is still happening in internet cafes, and not on mobile phones.
"We’re still looking at around 50, 60 percent internet usage happening in cafes. Maraming internet cafes dyan, DSL line na pambahay, nagse-share ang 10 [users]. So that will drag down iyung overall [internet] speed," said Carlo Ople, editor-in-chief of unbox.ph.
Ople told ANC "Headstart" on Wednesday said that based from experience, internet speed in most countries in the Asia-Pacific region is faster than what Filipinos experience in the country, especially on mobile devices.
Internet speed in the Philippines, Ople said, can be slow for several reasons.
"Number one can be the quality of the connection that you have. Sometimes people kasi probably think na porke't they get 1 or 2 Mbps connection, sobrang bilis na ‘yun. Pero pag maraming nag-connect dyan, for example multiple users, then obviously, the speed will go down especially if people use YouTube, or they start downloading several videos. It affects the overall speed," Ople explained.
Other reasons, according to Ople, are viruses or malware.
"That also happens even with phones. Iyung mahilig mag-download ng sangkaterbang apps na hindi naman nila ginagamit, in the background, those apps actually consume bandwidth so it actually slows down your internet and battery. So it’s important for you to turn off or eliminate applications that you are not using," he advised.
Ople also said another "interesting" reason behind the slow internet speed is that Filipinos love to multi-task and have the tendency to open multiple tabs in one sitting.
"The average number of tabs open in a browser of a Filipino user is 4 to 7. Multiple tabs actually slow down your internet. Kasi all of those consume memory, and speed, so lahat ng mga factors na ‘yan affect internet speed. Of course that’s on top already of having a slow internet speed," he noted.
Ople said internet speed also depends on the telecommunications company that consumers pick.
"Iba-iba yung areas kung saan sila malakas, hindi naman ‘yan consistent. One thing that is also important to note is yung roll-out ng LTE na sinasabi nila, hindi naman lahat ng areas covered," he said.
Ople explained that internet speed has several levels – 2G, 3G, 3.5G or HSDPA+, and LTE.
"Pag 2G, which is pag bilog yung nakikita mo sa telepono mo. Iyun iyung pinaka nakaka-asar kasi parang wala ka nang internet. Tapos meron tinatawag na 3G, 'yun yung normal, usually umaabot ng 2 MBPS; yung 3.5G or HSDPA+, which is supposed to get you around 5 or 6, pero sometimes lang yun; and the LTE which is supposed to get you to 40 (Mbps) daw," Ople said.
According to Ople, telecommunications companies have a tendency of "overpromising" consumers fast internet speeds.
"Sometimes they keep saying… it’s 40, 30, ,10, it’s unlimited… when in fact it’s not. Siguro kailangan din tingnan yun from a consumer point of view," he said.
In fairness to the telcos, Ople said they have come up with new plans for users, and the issue is also a matter of educating consumers.
Asked how the telecommunications companies can improve their services, Ople said the key is transparency.
"Definitely, more transparency on the side of the telcos, kasi they keep on overpromising, coming up with so many marketing gimmicks, parang nade-dehado si consumer. I agree [with Senator Bam Aquino] that there should be a roadmap, both private sector and government working together kasi it cannot just be the private sector, because it will just be driven by their ROI, their business plans," he said.
On the internet’s potential for employment, Ople said speeds and efficiency of data transfer have a big impact on potential job opportunities that people can get in the Philippines on a global level.
"The market really opens up, lalo na if you know how to use the internet to make money. It’s very critical na yung data transfer through the speeds, obviously, is efficient and fast kasi it gives so much more opportunities to people," he said.