imyeyes-banner-sqIn My EyesBy Edward B. Antonio

IN MY EYES: Fast or slow internet access?

Mang Maing subscribed to a network wi-fi for 2 days, paying P85.00 in the process.

But he could not open his connection as the barline signal registers only 2 bars.

When I bought my pocket wi-fi 3 years ago, it was functioning well. But nowadays it has become inutile. Sayang lang ang ibinayad ko, nakakabuwisit!” he said.

For Mang Maing, that’s a hold-up. Paying for something you can not avail due to poor service is indeed a broad daylight hold-up, fellas.

Kenneth, an IT expert said: “You could hardly connect nowadays because of the signal traffic caused by the millions of 4G cellphones connected via data or wi-fi.”

Mang Maing shares a column published in the PDI in August 2017 which came out in Joel Ruiz Butuyan’s column saying: “Disappointingly, our country’s internet access is controlled by two companies that provide one of the slowest and most expensive internet services in the world… The cost per megabit per second in the Philippines is at an average value of $18.18, while global average is only $5.21 according to the study.”

Yoly Crisanto, SVP, Globe Corporate Communications in a reply to a PDI column said: “That ‘our country’s internet access is controlled by two companies’ is farthest from the truth. A simple Google search will indicate there are at least 14 internet service providers in the Philippines. These providers are a combination of national and regional networks that provide internet services to homes and businesses nationwide.

As to internet speed, we refer to the State of the Internet Report by Akamai, a global leader in Content Delivery Network services, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that delivers more than 2 trillion internet interactions daily through its globally distributed content delivery platform, enabling them to share an informed view on internet connectivity. In their Q1 2017 report, the Philippines registered 5.5 Mbps for fixed line internet, an improvement of 57-percent YoY, while mobile is 8.7 Mbps.

Nowhere in this report did it indicate that we are the slowest in the world in terms of internet speed. By contrast, the country registered the strongest growth in the Asia-Pacific. Arguably, internet speed is relative to device, availability of spectrum bandwidth, and infrastructure density in any country.

As to price per Mbps, Globe is offering its Home Broadband plans (fixed line) at 50 Mbps to 100 Mbps speed at P1,899 and P2,499 per month, respectively, in areas where we have strong fiber optic connection. This translates to P38 or $0.74 per Mbps for a 50 Mbps plan and P25 or $0.48 per Mbps for a 100 Mbps plan. For mobile internet, Globe offers P48.82 per GB of data—one of the lowest in Asia. Singapore has prices at P161.28 per GB, Indonesia at P122.50 per GB, and Malaysia at P116.92 per GB—a far contrast to what Mr. Butuyan claimed.”

She admitted, however, that:

But it cannot be denied that the Philippines is suffering from a severe lack of ICT infrastructure — a huge challenge that we need to overcome as a country. Unlike in other countries where the government actively invests in cell towers, submarine cable systems, and fiber optic cables to augment the multibillion-dollar spending of industry players, spending for ICT infrastructure in the Philippines is mostly led by the private sector.

Thus, countries like Vietnam have 70,000 cell sites today and China has over a million cell sites, compared to our country’s 16,400 cell sites funded exclusively by the private sector. The biggest contributor to the lack of infrastructure is the debilitating bureaucracy and permitting issues that telco operators like Globe are faced with. It takes 25 permits and eight months to put up one cell site. Laying down fiber optic cables requires right-of-way permits that usually take just as long. And homeowners’ associations can easily refuse any operator who wants to put up much-needed infrastructure to help connect cities and municipalities.”

Ralph Jennings explains: “The Philippines is made up of about 7,100 islands, making fixed networks particularly hard to build. Permits may be issued only at the smallest level of local government, and one by one. The government also charges “high fees,” a deterrent to any start-ups or foreign investors in broadband, said Fiona Vanier, senior media analyst with market research firm IHS Technology. Dominant broadband provider Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. controls much of the infrastructure, allowing it to charge fees higher than elsewhere in Asia despite a relatively poor population. The phone company goes on to charge other providers for traffic through its network as well, Vanier said, and the Philippines lacks Internet peering, which slows broadband speeds.”

In other words, due to the bulk of internet users in the country, cell sites are already overloaded that they can no longer function well. I can’t blame Mr. Butuyan’s observation, fellas. As a consumer whose experience is like that of Mang Maing, I share his opinion that our country’s internet access is “mainly” controlled by two giant networs while the others are only dwarfs compared and that we have one of the slowest and costliest internet access in the world. While I agree with Miss Crisanto’s explanation, what we, consumers experience is more telling. It might be fast in the papers but slow in the laptops, CPUs and phones! May we hear from the DOST if it’s feasible that the government invest more in putting up more cell towers, submarine cable systems and fiber optic cables to augment these privately put-up ones.

That’s why Mang Maing is waiting for the “3rd party” network to come in to our country to compete with these 2 giants, hoping that a stiffer competition will provide the public with a better choice or alternative.

Waiting, waiting, waiting… #