January 19, 2021

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The Philippines records all-time high internet, download speeds

Despite the increased difficulty in securing maintenance and upgrade work for several cell sites due to restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic and infrastructure damage due to the onslaught of typhoons, the Philippines was still able to record all-time high internet speed and downloads last year, on the back of aggressive directives given by the government to internet service providers to improve their broadband services. 

Data from Ookla, the company behind the Speedtest application, showed that download speeds in the country through broadband improved by 297.47% as of December 2020. Meanwhile, the Philippines logged in a 202.41% increase in speeds for mobile internet. 

These figures show significant improvement in the country’s internet speeds when compared with those recorded during July 2016. The average download speed for fixed and mobile broadband then was at 7.91 megabits per second (Mbps) and 7.44 Mbps, respectively. 

Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index released in 2020 also depicted that internet speeds showed a slight improvement in November, bringing the country’s ranking to the 110th spot out of a list of 160 countries. The Philippines recorded 18.49 Mbps during that month, slightly faster than speeds of 17.83 Mbps cited in October. 

To further compare, in December 2020 alone, the average download speeds for both fixed and mobile internet increased to 31.44 Mbps and 22.50 Mbps. Likewise, telecommunications companies reported prior to the Ookla report that there was a 500% increase in data usage during the first few months of the quarantine period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Encouraging development in broadband infrastructure 

The improvement in broadband services last year is part of the initiatives laid out early on by the Philippine government. During his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte urged telecommunications companies in the Philippines to ramp up their internet services before year-end. 

The government also heeded the call of broadband providers for local government units to speed up the granting of permits to build cellular towers. Internet service provider Globe Telecom stated through its counsel: “Previously, we needed to wait and spend years to complete at least 29 permits. But with the help of the Bayanihan To Recover as One Act, LGUs are now enabled to become more open and supportive of our network roll-outs, especially in the past weeks.” 

Another broadband provider, Smart Communications. also announced that it is looking at a rollout of 2,000 additional cell sites this year.  The Department of Informations and Communications Technology (DICT) lauded the effort of the national government to ramp up connectivity services. These services, the department explained, are vital in helping the Filipino population adapt to the new normal. 

In line with this, the DICT stated that it is doubling its efforts to implement the National Broadband Programme (NBP). The NBP, one of the flagship ventures of the DICT, is expected to amplify the goals of the government to move towards digital transformation by making internet connectivity accessible by people all over the Philippines, especially those in far-flung areas. 

DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II expressed confidence that Filipinos will start to “feel the effects of the said initiative” as early as this year. This statement comes after the government approved a bigger budget for the DICT in anticipation of the implementation of the NBP. 

As previously reported by OpenGov Asia, the allotted fund for the NBP in 2021 was doubled to PHP 1.9 billion (US$ 39.5 million), from the PHP 903.194 million (US$ 18.8 million) earlier proposed by members of Congress. This funding is on top of allocations for DICT’s free Wi-Fi project pursuant to Republic Act 10929 or the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act.