At the Senate hearing on the renewal of DITO Telecommunity’s franchise, National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Chief Gamaliel Cordoba bared that internet speeds in the Philippines improved by as much as 262.7% in 2020, but urged the government to invest in telecommunications infrastructure just like what is being done in other countries.

Cordoba said that the Philippines’ fixed broadband speeds as of November 2020 rose to 28.69Mbps, 262.70% higher than 7.91Mbps in July 2016. The country’s mobile internet speed likewise improved to 18.49Mbps in November 2020, a 148.52% jump from the country’s 7.44Mbps four years ago.

“Isa tayo sa top 10 countries in terms of telco investments in the private sector. About 40% of total revenue (of telcos) is invested back into infrastructure,” the NTC official noted.

“Ang sinasabi po ng World Bank, maganda po sana if the government can invest in internet infrastructure just like what is being done in other countries. Sa ibang countries po kasi, the government builds the infrastructure and ‘yung mga telco nagre-rent lang sa government,” he added.

Cordoba said that the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) asked for “P10 billion to P12 billion” to be able to “put up a fiber internet backbone from Aparri to Jolo, and then from the left side to right side from Palawan to Samar.” The Department of Budget and Management (DBM), however, only allowed them to have P900 million.

“In the Philippines, we are still in the mindset of putting up roads dahil yan po ay nakikita. But actually po, maganda if aside from roads, mag-invest din po tayo sa (internet) infrastructure para mapababa po ang presyo at mapabilis po ang roll out,” the NTC chief explained.

He also revealed that the government had not invested a centavo in developing internet services in the country. Private telecommunications companies are the ones making investments in ICT infrastructure.

The NTC added that the Malaysian and Singaporean governments invested around $233.6 million and $1.7 billion, respectively, ICT infrastructure. The Vietnamese government has invested $820 million specifically for a 23,000-kilometer submarine cable, while Thailand’s $343 million budget was apportioned to ensure the broadband connectivity of 24,700 villages.

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