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At the bottom of the Internet list

PHILIPPINE Internet users have long complained of the very slow Internet speed in this country. The latest affirmation of this fact came the other day when the State of the Internet Report for the last quarter of 2016 said the Philippines has the lowest Internet connection speed among Asia-Pacific countries with 4.5 megabits per second (mbps). A bit higher in the list was India with 5.6 mbps.

In stark contrast was the Internet connection speed of South Korea – 26.1 mbps – which put it at the top of the list.

The rest of the top ten were Norway with 23.6 mbps; Sweden, 22.8 mbps; Hong Kong, 21.9 mbps; Switzerland, 21.2 mbps; Denmark, 20.7 mbps; Finland, 20.6 mbps; Singapore, 20.2 mbps; Japan, 19.6 mbps; and Netherlands, 17.6 mbps.

In a world where nearly every activity, particularly in business and industry, relies heavily on the Internet, our slow speed is holding back our economic progress. One Philippine industry alone which relies heavily on the Internet – the business process outsourcing industry – earns us about R2 billion a month. It and so many other enterprises could achieve greater growth if we had faster Internet speed.

Several months ago, the hopes of Internet users in the county rose when Philippine Long Distance Co. and Globe Telecom, which operate the nation’s two leading systems Smart and Globe, acquired a 700-megahertz frequency from San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and they vowed to make considerable improvements in their services.

Their plans, however, were set back when the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) sought to review the deal which had been approved by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), saying it may have stopped the entry of a third telecom firm. The Court of Appeals (CA) issued a writ of preliminary injunction against the PCC which immediately appealed to the Supreme Court (SC). There the issue rests to this day.

PLDT and Globe the other day sought to pay their final installments on the deal to SMC, so they could move forge ahead with their plans in the country. The PCC said this would unduly preempt the forthcoming rulings of the CA and the SC.

Every day that these telco plans are held back is one more day that the country has to live with its reputation as the country with the slowest Internet speed in the world. The earlier this legal issue is settled, the earlier we can look forward to action from the nation’s top telecom firms to raise the country from its present position at the bottom of the list.