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PHL one of worst places in the world for Internet development

One of the major hurdles to having fast, reliable Internet access anywhere in the Philippines is infrastructure, an international study confirms.

A study by the Boston Consulting Group that measured e-friction, or the factors that inhibit Internet use, found "the most significant sources of friction are related to infrastructure factors."

The study identified 55 indicators of e-friction and grouped them into four components: infrastructure, industry, individual, and information.

BCG ranked 65 countries based on their score on the BCG's e-friction index, where the Philippines ranked 47th.

A big chunk of the Philippines' e-friction score was infrastructure-related friction, just like in many of the countries on the list. Indicators under infrastructure include access, speed, price, traffic, and architecture.

The country with the lowest e-friction score was Sweden with only 14 points. The highest scorer was Nigeria with 82 points.

The challenge of geography 

The main challenge facing Internet providers in the Philippines is the country's geography.

“In Singapore, for instance, homes can get low cost 10mbps of broadband wired to their homes. But remember, Singapore has a small land base and it's continuous. It's very easy to roll out fiber (optics) and cables. Can you imagine how hard it is for telcos to wire 7,107 islands of the Philippines?” said Juan Victor Hernandez, first vice president and head of PLDT ALPHA Enterprise, during the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Philippine Internet held on Friday.

The event was organized by the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the global organization responsible for managing and coordinating the Domain Name System (DNS) to ensure the validity and uniqueness every IP address.

In order for Internet to be accessible in an area, providers like PLDT have to install cables underground and under sea, and that's difficult and more expensive to do in a country that has a scattered land base. Another option is to provide Internet access via satellite.

However, that is also difficult to do in a country like the Philippines since satellites are “exceedingly sensitive” to climate, said Judith Duavit Vazquez, ICANN's first Asian female board member, who was also at the event.

Congestion

She also pointed out the problem of congestion that exacerbates the problem with infrastructure.

“It's not just about infrastructure. The Internet is a multiplier of requests from different cellphones hitting one data center. [Imagine] you have eight children with one refrigerator and everybody rushes to get a glass of water. Imagine 100 million Filipinos accessing 2,000 different types of videos online. There will be congestion,” she explained.

According to World Bank data, around 36.24 percent of the population of the Philippines had access to the Internet as of 2012. — GMA News

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About Erick Abel

Erick Abel
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