Fast internet requires gov't investment: NTC, telco

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 08 2020 03:49 PM | Updated as of Dec 08 2020 04:51 PM

Fast internet requires gov't investment: NTC, telco 1
A cellular site tower in Caloocan City on Aug. 06, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Government investment is needed to boost the country's internet speed, its regulator and a telecommunication provider said Tuesday, following President Rodrigo Duterte's deadline to improve services. 

The Philippines' average fixed broadband speed ranks 32nd in Asia, while its mobile internet speed is 34th as of October, said National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba. 

Countries on top of the list invest more in their internet infrastructure. For instance, Japan spends around $162 billion, and South Korea allocates about $24 billion. The Philippines will spend P6 billion next year, he said.

Meanwhile, Vietnam has around 80,000 communication towers, almost quadruple the Philippines' 23,000 towers, Cordoba added. 

"Iyong mga nangunguna po na bansa sa atin, grabe po ang ginagastos ng gobyerno para sa kanilang infrastructure network," he told reporters. 

(The countries ahead of us, their governments spend much for their infrastructure network.)

The Department of Information and Communications Technology will adopt this "global best practice," he said.

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The Philippines has "a very challenging" topography, which requires "a hybrid of government and private sector investment to be able to really bring about fiber [internet connection]," said Globe president and CEO Ernest Cu. 

"It cannot take a private initiative lang--kaming 2 lang ni PLDT magtatayo n'yan. Kahit magsama ho kami, talagang mahihirapan. But you know, the effort is continuing," he said. 

(It cannot take a private initiative only, with only the 2 of us building that. Even if we join forces, it will be really difficult.)

Duterte in July told telcos to "improve the services before December." 

"I want to call Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, better have that line cleared...If you are not ready to improve, I might just as well close all of you and we revert back to the line telephone at kukunin ko yan (I will take that) expropriate ko sa gobyerno (to the government)," Duterte said in his 5th State of the Nation Address.
 
The NTC on Monday told senators that internet speeds in the Philippines improved by as much as 262.7 percent in 2020, up from 7.91 mbps in July 2016.