Filipinos are facing a double whammy of one of the world's most expensive and slowest Internet services, according to the World Bank and the National Economic and Development Authority.
The joint study "A Better Normal Under COVID-19: Digitalizing the Philippine Economy Now" came out recently, revealing that 57 percent of households or 12.2 million families don't have online access.
Those connected to the Internet experience an average mobile broadband download speed of 16.76 megabytes per second (mbps) and 3G/4G mobile average download speed of 7 mbps. The global average mobile broadband download speed is 32.01 mbps, while the ASEAN 3G/4G mobile average download speed is 13.26 mbps.
Connections are much slower even as Filipinos pay roughly the same amount for fixed broadband as their neighbors in Singapore and Thailand, according to the study. The Philippines' 500-megabyte Internet service for prepaid, handset-based mobile broadband worth $6.3 (P305) a month is the ASEAN's fourth highest behind Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia.
The problems stem from digital infrastructure, lack of competition, and restrictions on investment in the telecommunications markets. "These restrictions include the public utility designation of telecommunications, which limits foreign ownership and places a cap on the rate of return," the report said.