Internet: Overcoming pandemic lockdowns

Reports from the country’s biggest telecommunication companies showed that the number of broadband subscribers grew during the COVID-19 pandemic. | @CEBacligINQ

6/21/2021 10:09:00 AM

Reports from the country’s biggest telecommunication companies showed that the number of broadband subscribers grew during the COVID-19 pandemic. | CEBacligINQ

MANILA, Philippines—Internet, or broadband connection, has become one of the most sought after services since the global health pandemic pushed many Filipinos to stay and study or work at

But what is really the situation on ICT in the country?Increasing subscribersReports from the country’s biggest telecommunication companies showed that the number of broadband subscribers grew during the COVID-19 pandemic.INFOGRAPHIC BY ED LUSTANLast month, Globe Telecom announced that its total home broadband subscribers reached over four million.

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The company said it is 81 percent higher than last year’s figure.The milestone was made possible, according to Globe Telecom, by the expansion of the “sustained fixed wireless broadband users’ expansion” which increased by 105 percent compared to last year.

PLDT also declared that it has expanded its fiber-to-home network footprint with 3.9 million broadband subscribers as of April.ADVERTISEMENT“This pandemic has made the Internet an essential for millions of Filipino families,” said a PLDT statement quoting Butch Jimenez, SVP and head of PLDT Home Business.

Another service provider, Converge ICT Solutions Inc. said its residential subscribers doubled last year by more than one million.From 530,000 subscribers in 2019, the number of Converge subscribers reached 1,038,000 by December 2020.Opensignal, an independent mobile analytics company, found that more Filipinos spent more time on Wi-Fi networks last year amid the Luzon enhanced community quarantine.

Since the government implemented strict measures to control the spread of COVID-19, several companies shifted to a work-from-home setup.Schools likewise started online classes as classrooms remained closed.Average internet speedThe Philippines saw a further improvement in its average internet speed for May, according to Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index.

From 46.25 megabits per second (Mbps) in March, the country’s average internet download speed for fixed broadband shot up to 49.31 Mbps in April.From 49.31 megabits per second (Mbps) in April, the country’s average internet download speed for fixed broadband shoot up to 58.73 Mbps.

There was also an increase in the average upload speed from 47.83 Mbps to 57.40 Mbps.Of the total 180 countries analyzed by the international internet speed monitoring firm, the Philippines ranked 65th – 15 places higher compared to its previous ranking.

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The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) attributed the improvement in April to President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive in July 2020 to cut red tape from local government units in permits for building more cell towers.Following the President’s order, NTC said there has been an increase in the issuance of permits from July 2020 to March this year.

How much does it cost to ‘connect’?In the Philippines, people pay an average of $53.71, or P2,582.25, per month to connect to the virtual world online – according to a survey by consumer comparison website released earlier this year.It is lower than the global average cost of $78.14 in 211 countries. In terms of global ranking, the Philippines was 199th in internet connection cost.

INFOGRAPHIC BY ED LUSTANThe average cost of broadband per megabit per month amounts to $0.75. The cheapest broadband package offered in the country costs $8.99 or P432.25 while the most expensive package costs $197.58 or P9,499.However, the UK-based technology website noted that the $53.71 average monthly cost for the Philippines in 2020 is higher than its 2019 average of $39.29. Other countries also saw an increase in their average monthly broadband cost.

Among Asean countries, the Philippines along with Laos had the most expensive broadband fees per month next to Brunei. Read more: Inquirer »

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