Probe slow, expensive PH Internet – Bam Aquino

Photo courtesy of facebook.com/ASEANDNA via rappler.com

Photo courtesy of facebook.com/ASEANDNA via rappler.com

By Ayee Macaraig/rappler.com– “Do we always have to pay a steep price for slow and sometimes unreliable Internet connection?”

Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV voiced the complaint of Filipino netizens, calling on the Senate to investigate the “slow, expensive” Internet connection in the Philippines provided by telecommunication companies.

Aquino’s call comes after reports showed that the Philippines has the slowest Internet connection among members of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“There are constant complaints about the provider’s failure to deliver on its promised connection speed, which usually leads to slow Internet link,” Aquino said in a statement on Tuesday, April 22.

Aquino said he wants to know why other Southeast Asian countries enjoy faster Internet connection at “a much cheaper price while the Philippines bears the brunt of slow connection.

The senator added that he will focus on the impact of Internet speed on the ease of doing business in the country. His office said he aims to lead the investigation under the Senate committee on trade, commercial and entrepreneurship, which he chairs.

Aquino cited data from an infographic of ASEAN DNA, which describes itself as a site “to promote a better understanding and appreciation of shared values and common characteristics of ASEAN.”

The infographic showed the Philippines at the bottom of the list of ASEAN countries (3.6 mbps), way below the ASEAN average of 12.4 mbps. Only Singapore and Thailand have Internet connections above the average.

The Philippines lagged behind the following Southeast Asian countries:

Singapore (61 mbps)
Thailand (17.7 mbps)
Vietnam (13.1 mbps)
Cambodia (5.7 mbps)
Malaysia (5.5 mbps)
Myanmar and Brunei (4.9 mbps)
Indonesia (4.1 mbps)
Laos (4 mbps)

‘NTC should explain’

Aquino also compared the prices of Internet service among Southeast Asian countries.

He said on the average, Filipino consumers spend about P1,000 (US$22) a month for Internet service with speeds of up to two mbps while some telecommunication companies offer speed of up to 5 mps for around P2,000 (US$44) 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.

In comparison, Aquino said Singapore’s largest telecommunications company Singtel offers 15 mbps per second for 36.9 Singaporean dollars or about P1,312 (US$29) a month (P87 per mbps).

He said Thailand’s True Internet provides 12 mbps for about 799 baht or P1,100 (US$25) a month (P92 per mpbs).

Aquino said the National Telecommunications Commission, which regulates telecommunication companies, should “provide a logical and clear explanation on this.”

The senator added that improving Internet connection in the Philippines is crucial to the ASEAN Economic Integration (AEC) in 2015, which aims to transform the region into “a single market and production base, and a highly competitive region.”

‘People genuinely unhappy’

Asked what prompted him to look into the speed and cost of Internet connection in the Philippines, Aquino told Rappler, “I saw the infographic that was posted on the net and saw that people were genuinely unhappy with our position in the ASEAN issue.”

“When we did more research, we saw that other countries were paying the equivalent or less fees for faster speeds.”

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