Want faster Internet? Break the ISP industry monopoly!

internet speed in the philippines
Internet speed in the Philippines: Slowest in Southeast Asia

Senator Bam Aquino made headlines two weeks ago week when he demanded an investigation on why the Philippines earned the dubious distinction of having the slowest Internet connection in the entire Southeast Asia.

“There are constant complaints about the Internet service providers’ (ISPs) failure to deliver on its promised connection speed, which usually leads to slow Internet link,” Aquino said.

The first-term senator is reacting to an infographic released in the Facebook page of ASEAN DNA which showed that the average Internet speed in the Philippines is only 3.6 megabits per second (mbps).

Among the countries it trails are Vietnam (13.1 mbps), Cambodia (5.7 mbps), and Myanmar (4.9 mbps). The average Internet speed in the region is 12.4 mbps while the global mean is at 17.5 mbps.

As GMA News rightly pointed out in their report, this is not supposed to surprise anyone.

In 2012, international Internet giant Google came out with a study which revealed that the Philippines have the 2nd slowest desktop Internet connection among the 50 countries that it surveyed. Read a report by Bloomberg.com’s Olga Kharif about it here.

If Aquino, a first cousin of President Benigno Aquino III, is serious about probing this shameful situation, he should look into the root cause of the problem.

In the first place, there are only a handful of ISPs in the country. According to Wikipedia, these are the major players in the industry:

*Bayan Telecommunications

*ComClark Network

*Eastern Telecoms (San Miguel)

*Globe Telecoms (Ayala)

*PLDT

*Sky Broadband

*Smart Communications

*Sun Cellular

*Wi Tribe

internet speed in the philippines
Internet speed in the Philippines: Slowest in Southeast Asia

A closer look at these companies will reveal just how monopolized the Internet service industry is in the Philippines. For example, business mogul Manny V. Pangilinan’s conglomerate controls in one way or another three ISPs: Smart Communications, Sun Cellular, and PLDT.

Meanwhile, Lopez Group of Companies operates Sky Internet and Bayan Communications. San Miguel Corporation, on the other hand, partly owns Wi Tribe and Eastern Telecoms.

Lastly, Globe Telecoms is affiliated with the Ayala Group while ComClark, currently led by its president Dennis Anthony Uy, hasn’t really established a strong presence outside Central Luzon.

So to recap, three business conglomerates control seven of the country’s nine major ISPs. How on earth did this very disadvantageous system (for consumers, at least) flourish?

Take a look at the country’s 1987 Constitution, one of the so-called legacies of Senator Bam’s grandma, the late former President Corazon Aquino. According to Article XII, sections 10 and 11 of the 1987 Charter, Filipinos should have not lower than 60% control of all public utility firms in the country.

Take note that Article XVI, section 11 of the Constitution mandates that all mass media entities has to be 100% Filipino owned.

Against this backdrop, it is now easy to see why Internet service in the country sucks. When you only have a few competitors in the market, you don’t have any incentive to make your product excellent.

And given that establishing a presence in the Philippines’ IS industry requires massive capital, it is perhaps understandable why there are just a handful of players in the market. In the end, it is the consumers who are at the losing end.

The present monopoly can only be broken if the protectionist provisions in the 1987 Constitution gets amended. In doing so, the country stands to get bigger foreign direct investments, especially in the industry of information and communication technology.

In the face of competition from foreign ISPs, local players like Bayan Communication and PLDT DSL will have no other option but to improve their service – lest they lose their customers.

This is exactly how free markets are supposed to go. And when the quality of the Internet service improves, the public will finally get their money’s worth. No wonder every initiative to amend the Constitution is met with stiff resistance from the ruling economic and political elite in the country.

Unless Bam Aquino is willing to discuss the real root cause of the problem he is so concerned about, his proposed Senate investigation will just be another waste of taxpayers’ money.

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About Mark Madrona 1191 Articles
Mark Madrona is a prize-winning blogger, online journalist, and educator from the Philippines. Previously a book editor, he is now teaching communication subjects for two public universities in Manila. His blog The Filipino Scribe won 3rd place in a blog competition organized by the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP). In 2015, it was one of the finalists in the 2015 Lasallian Scholarum Awards for Best Online Feature Article in Youth and Education. He also won the Best Blog Award during the 2011 Population and Development Media Awards, the youngest recipient of that recognition. Know more about him here: http://www.filipinoscribe.com/about/.

8 Comments on Want faster Internet? Break the ISP industry monopoly!

  1. We are helpless really because of the monopoly. Transferring from one to the other does not help since you get the same poor service and servicing. When you complain it takes a long time and you have to irritatingly repeat and repeat to the call center ID details and what is the problem and you get the same promise … You are simply tempted to be angry and say bad words…

  2. And also, just like the other utility companies, electricity and water, they cut the service if you don’t pay on time but when you need the service or something is wrong with the service, you cannot cut them off or penalize in some way. In the internet, you still have to track the charges since many times the credits for non-service don’t appear. Poor Juan de la Cruz has to deal with these everyday.

  3. Masyadong gahaman ang mga ISP dito sa atin gaya ng GLOBE nag implement sila ng FUP o FAIR USAGE POLICY sa prepaid 800Mb limit sa halagang 50 pesos unli internet daw pero may limit pala, isang halimbawa ng panloloko yan ginagawa ng GLOBE napakamahal ng internet nilalagyan pa ng limit mahiya naman kau mga ISP wag kayo greedy may hangganan din lahat wag nyo ubusin pasencya ng tao baka isang araw magising kayo nasa kangkungan na kayo napenalize na kau ng senado at kongreso mtagal na kayo nangloloko ng tao alisin nyo na yung lintik na FAIR USAGE POLICY di yan nakakatuwa ang mahal ng singil sa internet tapos may limit pala

  4. Considering I’m in a country where I feel mas advance ang ‘pinas, when it comes to internet connection, mahihiya ang pinas… pinakamabagal nila ang 7.5 mbps (whether mobile or desktop connections). Although 3G na ang norm, they have upgraded all into 4G.

    Whenever I’m home (in ‘pinas), I feel like i’m on remission. Walang reliable internet, even the internet shops’ so-called reliable internet are slow. Again, it’s time for upgrade but how? especially when telecommunications are monopolized.

  5. You actually make it appear really easy together with your presentation however I find this topic to be really something which I believe I might never understand. It kind of feels too complicated and extremely large for me. I am taking a look ahead on your subsequent publish, I will try to get the cling of it!|

  6. Bam Aquino is a Aquino so he is all talk and no action. Over a year has passed and what was done in case anyone was wondering ? Nothing

    Nice job Bam, just another big mouth Aquino.

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