Why Philippine internet speeds are slow

by Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Apr 24 2014 12:32 AM | Updated as of Apr 24 2014 09:25 PM

MANILA - The Philippines' average peak internet connection speed is faster than that of China and several countries in the Asia-Pacific region but its low use of broadband technology -- as well as high costs for internet users compared to other countries -- mean slow average connection speeds for consumers. 

The Philippines had an average peak internet connection speed of 32.6 megabits per second (Mbps) in the 4th quarter of 2013, representing a 103% quarter-on-quarter growth and a 144% rise from the same period in 2012, said Massachusetts-based Akamai Technologies Inc. in its State of the Internet report released Wednesday.

Hong Kong topped the Asia-Pacific list with 68 Mbps, followed by South Korea (64.4 Mbps), Singapore (59.1 Mbps), and Japan (53.7 Mbps).

Ranking below the Philippines in average peak internet connection speed were Malaysia (30 Mbps), New Zealand (21.6 Mbps), China (13.8 Mbps), Vietnam (12.6 Mbps), Indonesia (12.5 Mbps), and India (10.9 Mbps).

Hong Kong also topped the global list, followed by South Korea and Singapore.

"Similar to the quarter-over-quarter changes, the largest yearly increase was seen in the Philippines, which grew 144% from the fourth quarter of 2012," the Akamai report said, adding that it was the only country to see its speed double on a yearly basis.

However, the Philippines' average connection speed per user was only around 2Mbps during the period, compared to South Korea's 21.9 Mbps, Japan's 12.8 Mbps, Hong Kong's 12.2 Mbps, Taiwan's 8.3 Mbps, and Singapore's 7.9 Mbps.

Only Vietnam, Indonesia, and India ranked below the Philippines in average connection speed.

Akamai said the average connection speed in the Philippines grew 11% quarter-on-quarter and 42% year-on-year.

Globally, the average Internet speed grew 27% year-over-year to 3.8 Mbps, while mobile traffic jumped by 70%.

The Philippines also lagged behind in high broadband (more than 10 Mbps) and broadband (more than 4 Mbps) connectivity, the report said.

The country only had a 0.2% high broadband connectivity and 3.6% broadband connectivity during the period.

In comparison, South Korea had the highest level of high broadband adoption, with 71% of connections to Akamai at speeds above 10 Mbps.

It added that South Korea reached near-universal broadband adoption (94%) in the last quarter of 2013.

Other areas in Asia Pacific increased broadband use while the broadband adoption rate in the Philippines remained stuck well below 10%.

Slow, expensive Philippine internet

This, as Senator Bam Aquino on Tuesday said he wants an investigation into the slow and expensive internet service in the country.

Aquino, in a press statement, said the investigation should determine if consumers are getting their money's worth from the internet service given by local telecommunication companies.

He issued the call in response to a report that the Philippines is at the bottom of a list of countries in Southeast Asia in terms of Internet speeds.

Aquino said he wants to know why others in Southeast Asia enjoy faster Internet speeds at a cheaper price while internet in the Philippines is slow and costly.

“There are constant complaints about the provider’s failure to deliver on its promised connection speed, which usually leads to slow Internet link,” the senator said.

He did not say which government body should undertake the investigation -- the Senate, in aid of legislation; Congress, which controls telco franchises; the National Telecommunications Commission, which regulates telcos; or the Department of Trade and Industry, which is tasked to protect consumer rights.

Comparing costs

Aquino said that on the average, consumers shell out around P1,000 a month for Internet service with speeds of up to 2 Mbps, while some telecommunication companies offering speed of up to 5 Mbps for around P2,000 a month.

“This is expensive compared to Singapore and Thailand where we can find some of the fastest Internet connections in the world,” Aquino said.

He said Singapore's Singtel offers 15 Mbps internet for SGD 36.90, or around P1,312 a month.

Thailand's True Internet, meanwhile, provides 12 Mbps for about 799 baht or P1,100.

Singapore's MyRepublic also offers 1 Gbps for SGD 49.99 or just around P1,777.

In comparison, PLDT's up-to-100 Mbps Fibr plan costs P20,000 a month. Its lowest-end package of up-to-8 Mbps costs P3,500 per month, or costing almost twice than the Singaporean Internet service provider's 1 Gbps plan.

The Cost of Connectivity 2013 report published by the New America Foundation has underscored the need for government policymakers to institute reforms for consumers to access cheaper and faster internet speeds, particularly implementing strategies to increase competition.

It said that the most affordable and fast connections are available in markets where consumers can choose between at least 3 competitive service providers. "This trend... also underscores the critical role that competition plays in determining broadband prices and speeds."

The Cost of Connectivity report also revealed the practice of some ISPs throttling users when they hit their data caps, which slows connection speeds for the remainder of the monthly billing cycle.