Numbers reveal the country’s substantial progress made over the last year in terms of broadband performance, particularly mobile and fixed broadband speeds.
Speedtest Global Index 2017 is a global ranking of Internet speeds updated on a monthly basis. The November 2017 report showed that the country hit 12.35Mbps, the highest recorded mobile download speed, and 14.42Mbps, the highest recorded fixed broadband download speed, since July 2016.
The chart below shows 17 months of measured download speeds for both mobile and fixed broadband connections, which increased steadily from July 2016 – November 2017.
Despite this marked improvement, the country is still falling behind 20.28 (mobile download) and 40.11 (fixed broadband download) global averages.
As for the affordability of these mobile and fixed broadband services, ITU’s Measuring the Information Society Report 2017 reveals that, in comparable with the rest of the world, PH telecom services are lower than the world averages.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology expects these numbers, including the country’s rankings, to see greater improvement in the coming quarters.
Once the 2Tbps international cable link capacity of the Landing Party Agreement becomes available in Q4 2019, government agencies all the way down to the barangay offices, as well as Free Wi-Fi Access Points shall migrate to it, immediately utilizing more than half of the said capacity.
Negotiations are underway with the NGCP/Transco for the use of their existing fiber optic cables that run from Luzon to Mindanao, for the distribution of the aforementioned bandwidth capacity from the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure international gateway. Middle-mile transport facilities will connect this backbone to provincial/municipal hubs or Points-of-Presence (POP), from where last-mile facilities will bring connectivity to all end-users.
Taking a closer look at the progress made in the area of network infrastructure, the Philippines has only around 24,000 cell sites, far from the ideal 67,000 towers. Telcos have reported that issues with building the last-mile connectivity are caused by permitting difficulties prevalent at the local government level. A draft Executive Order was submitted to the Office of the President to address permitting bottlenecks. Once this takes effect, telcos are expected to ramp up their cell site deployment.
Apart from this, in a statement made by OIC Rio, “The government will [also] go into a PPP agreement with a tower provider to put up common towers to be leased to the telcos, including a third player.”
OIC Rio also made mention of ongoing discussions with the Department of Energy in rolling out fixed line Internet access. “The Power Industry is a wired sector, not wireless, and they have already taken care of ‘the last mile issues’ in more than 90% of households and establishments in the whole country.”
He added, “After our agreements with DOE are finalized, we will encourage telcos, including a third player, to lease the electric poles and other appropriate structures of the Power industry to bring fast and inexpensive Internet access to Free Wi-Fi zones, homes and establishments.”
While the government network is limited to fixed Internet access, improving this will greatly help the major telco players in decongesting their present inadequate number of cell sites, as they try to fast-track their cell site deployment.
“But this will take some time,” OIC Rio said, and the DICT seeks to keep the public in the loop on the progress of the Department’s internet connectivity projects, as the country moves towards greater inclusivity through ICT.