Senator Win Gatchalian flagged the high cost of internet access in the country, emphasizing the cost of internet connectivity should be made more affordable for the benefit of consumers.
Speaking at a forum organized by the Senate Committee on Public Services, themed “Increasing Digital Connectivity in the Philippines”, Gatchalian revealed that in terms of internet affordability, the average monthly cost of internet services with at least 60 megabits per second (Mbps) average speed in the Philippines is about P2,057, based on estimates made by the crowd-sourced global database Numbeo.
By comparison, such an amount is about five percent higher when compared to the monthly cost of around P1,951 in Singapore, the country with the fastest average speed of 234.6 Mbps in terms of fixed broadband connection.
“These figures speak for themselves. We need to upgrade the quality of our internet services. We need to ensure that the amount we’re paying for internet services is commensurate to the quality that we’re receiving. Filipino citizens pay more than Singaporeans for internet service,” Gatchalian stressed.
According to him, addressing the affordability issue of internet services is just as important as the quality of broadband connectivity as lower cost of internet will enhance inclusivity and level the playing field in various sectors.
“Compared to other ASEAN countries, the Philippines lags in terms of mobile internet speed, with average downloads clocking in at just 24.6 Mbps and this is about 3.64 times slower than Brunei, which has the fastest reported connection in the ASEAN region,” bewailed Gatchalian.
“Higher connectivity to the internet is a powerful catalyst for job creation. It also enables access to critical public services like education and healthcare,” he said.
In a bid to increase public access to the internet, Congress enacted into law the “Free Internet Access in Public Places Act” to provide free internet access in government offices and public places. However, based on the “Digital 2023” report, internet adoption in the Philippines stands at only 73.1%. This means that only about 80 million Filipinos use the internet.
“If we could solve the issues we have with digital connectivity, we can be assured of universal, affordable, and reliable internet connectivity which is a key component for inclusive economic recovery,” he concluded.