MANILA - The National Telecommunications Commission on Monday said internet speeds in the Philippines improved by as much as 262.7 percent in 2020, but continues to lag behind regional peers.
As of November 2020, fixed broadband speeds in the country rose to 28.69 mbps, 262.70 percent higher than the 7.91 mbps in July 2016, National Telecommunications Commission chief Gamaliel Cordoba said in a Senate hearing.
Mobile internet speed in the Philippines also improved to 18.49 mbps in November 2020, a 148.52 percent jump from the country's 7.44 mbps 4 years ago, he said.
"Isa tayo sa top 10 countries in terms of telco investments in the private sector... About 40 percent of total revenue [of telcos] is invested back into infrastructure," he said.
(We are one of the top 10 countries in terms of telco investments in the private sector)
As of October 2020, the Philippines' fixed broadband speed is ranked 32nd in Asia, while its mobile internet speed placed 34th out of 50 countries in the continent.
In Southeast Asia, the Philippines' internet speed is only about a tenth of regional leader Singapore's 229.42 mbps speed for fixed broadband, and 64 mbps speed for mobile connection.
"Ang sinasabi po ng World Bank, maganda po sana if the government can invest in internet infrastructure just like what is being done in other countries," Cordoba said.
(The World Bank is saying that it would be nice if the government can invest in internet infrastructure just like what is being done in other countries.)
"Sa ibang countries po kasi, the government builds the infrastructure and 'yung mga telco nagre-rent lang sa government," he said.
(In other countries, the government builds the infrastructure and telcos just rent from the government.)
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) earlier asked for "P10 billion to P12 billion" to be able to "put up a fiber internet backbone from Aparri to Jolo, and then from left side to right side from Palawan to Samar," the NTC chief said.
But the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only allowed them to have P900 million, he said.
"In the Philippines, we are still in the mindset of putting up roads dahil yan po ay nakikita (because that can be easily seen)," he said.
"But actually po, maganda if aside from roads, mag-invest din po tayo sa [internet] infrastructure para mapababa po ang presyo at mapabilis po ang roll out," he said.
(But actually, it would be good if aside from roads, we would also invest in internet infrastructure so we can have lower rates and faster roll out.)
Senate Committee on Public Service Grace Poe assured Cordoba that the Senate raised the DICT's fund to P5.9 billion.
"P900 million is quite laughable... Part of the reason that we didn't go all out immediately is the absorptive capacity of the DICT," she said.
The NTC chief urged lawmakers to continue supporting the DICT's national broadband plan, noting that demand for internet surged by 500 percent when the entire Luzon was placed under a lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March.