The nation's Internet connection woes

It's been reported everywhere that out of 22 countries surveyed in Asia, the Philippines has the 21st fastest Internet speed. We're at the bottom of the list, right above Afghanistan. According to the list, Singapore has the top speed in the region at 122.43 Mbps. Compare that to our measly 3.64 Mbps.

Recent reports say that the government set a minimum speed of 256 kbps, which is hoped to be a step in the right direction in setting standards for Internet service providers and phone companies. By having a defined minimum, proponents claim, consumers will be able to get the speeds they were promised upon signing up for broadband plans.

One can argue that 256 kbps is still very low, even for a minimum, because modern websites are heavy. Anything under 500 kbps means that loading them would take a long time. Slow loading rates would then translate to failure in launching some elements of the page, such as high-resolution images and animations, which deprives the user of the complete experience.

Streaming – one of the most popular activities online – cannot be fully enjoyed when speeds are low as videos would buffer for a long time and sometimes stop loading altogether. For people who require using the Internet for work, especially to send and receive big files, a slow connection eats into their productivity and this results in time and money lost.

The Philippines' slow Internet situation is apparently such a big deal that hacktivists have had enough. Last week, Anonymous Philippines, the local arm of the international network, hacked and defaced the website of the National Telecommunications Commission in protest of the issue.

“We, Anonymous Philippines, are sympathizing with our fellow Filipino netizens whose battle cries are the 'OVER PROMISED, UNDER DELIVERED' system of our internet service providers; it is the neigh direct proportionality of our Internet speeds and bandwidths in relation to price,” part of the hackers' message reads.

Currently, speeds can fluctuate so drastically and crash to as low as 10 kbps. Regular speeds for plans that promise 1 Mbps, on the other hand, average around 400 to 600 kbps.

Slow Internet speed is not the country's only connectivity problem. Another hot-button issue is the so-called fair use policy covering “unlimited” data promos offered by mobile service providers, which are essentially not unlimited since speeds are lowered to dial-up modem levels when subscribers reach a daily or monthly data cap – something that Anonymous Philippines is also fighting against.

Subscribers are not asking for Singapore levels speeds. We realize that it's wishful thinking to hope for the ability to surf at over 100 Mbps in this country. But we certainly believe that we deserve more than the third-world kind of service currently being offered by telcos. Unfortunately, we suspect that the telcos and maybe even the NTC don't share that belief. Perhaps for them, this is all we Filipinos are entitled to. And that is where the problem lies.

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