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Internet infra in Philippines trails Asean peers

Publication Date : 07-04-2014

 

Internet infrastructure in the Philippines is lagging behind most of its Asean neighbors, thus limiting Filipino businesses’ access to the opportunities being presented by a wired economy, a report commissioned by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) showed.

In “The Connected World: Greasing the Wheels of the Internet Economy” report released by The Boston Consulting Group (BGC) early this year, the Philippines ranked 47th among the 65 countries covered by the “BGC e-Friction Index,” which assessed 55 indicators across four components—individual, industry, information and infrastructure—that restrained Internet use in a country.

BGC defined e-Friction as “the factors that can inhibit consumers, businesses and others from fully participating in the national and the international Internet economy.” The Philippines’ e-Friction score was 64. Sweden had the lowest e-Friction score of 14, while Nigeria’s score of 82 was the highest.

Among the six Asean member-countries covered by the report, the Philippines ranked third in the e-Friction index behind Singapore (15th overall) and Malaysia (28th).
Thailand was one spot lower than the Philippines at 48th place, Indonesia was 59th and Vietnam, 61st.

However, in the infrastructure friction component—which measures fixed- and mobile-broadband connections, bandwidth speeds, pricing as well as the number of networks, Internet service providers (ISPs), and Internet exchange points (IXPs)—the Philippines ranked a lower 53rd, behind Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Internet access in the Philippines mostly languished in the bottom fifth of the rankings—the country ranked 54th in Internet bandwidth per capita, 55th in international Internet bandwidth per capita and 57nd in consumer broadband penetration. Business and mobile Internet connectivity, however, were on the uptrend: The Philippines was 24th in business fixed-broadband penetration and 42nd in mobile Internet subscription penetration.

In terms of Internet connection prices, fixed-broadband pricing in the Philippines was the eighth-most expensive among the 65 countries covered by the study, while mobile pricing was the 24th cheapest.

ICANN vice president for global stakeholder engagement Christopher Mondini told reporters on the sidelines of a forum Friday that the Philippines’ archipelagic geography was one major deterrent to improving Internet infrastructure. Even Indonesia—a bigger archipelago—ranked lower than the Philippines in infrastructure friction.

“More than half of your friction in the Philippines comes from infrastructure. But since you have over 7,000 islands and [infrastructure] is very, very expensive, this is not surprising,” Mondini said.

As for the other friction components, Mondini noted that since the Philippines ranked a high 25th in information—which meant there was availability of local content as well as commitment to Internet openness here—the lacking infrastructure could be compensated by the freedom being enjoyed by Internet users in the country.

“If you’re a very restrictive country that doesn’t have a free press and there’s a lot of censorship, I think it’s harder to move up and do better than when the only thing keeping you from moving up is money. Since infrastructure is very expensive, business and government should work together,” he said.

 

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