MANILA - The Philippines needs to "shift some spending" to prevent pandemic-driven data demand from straining its internet infrastructure, the head of the Senate finance committee said Tuesday.
Building the country's networks is crucial as more people are forced to work and study from home to ride out the COVID-19 outbreak, Sen. Sonny Angara told ANC's Headstart.
"We have to make sure that the infrastructure is there... [because] that's going to be the way of the future. It's going to be how we buy our food, how we buy our clothes, how we pay our bills," he said.
"For many people, it is going to be how they earn a living forward. For our kids, it's also how they are going to study so capacity has to be there," he said.
Internet infrastructure needs to be improved, especially in provinces, now that the government is also pushing "Balik Probinsya" (Back to the Province) to ease congestion in Metro Manila, Angara said.
"If you want someone to return to the province, he needs that [internet] infrastructure there," he said. "If we want to compete, our digital skills and framework has to be there."
The Philippines' average mobile internet download speed of 15.06 Megabits per second was described as below global average of 26.12 Mbps, according to the Speedtest Global Index in 2019.
In terms of mobile internet speed, the Philippines ranked 103rd out of 139 countries, slower than war-torn Syria's 19.48 Mbps. The Philippines' fixed-line internet speed was at 19.51 Mbps, significantly slower than the global average of 57.91 Mbps.