Globe Telecom refuted a World Bank report that cited 2G remains to be the dominant technology and that the Philippines is on the wrong side of the regional “digital divide.”
As a panelist in the joint public launch of the Philippines Digital Economy Report 2020 entitled “Better Normal under COVID-19: Digitalizing the Philippine Economy Now ”, Globe President and CEO Ernest Cu echoed the reactions of the representatives from the Department of Information Communication and Technology, Department of Trade and Industry, the Anti-Red Tape Authority, and the Union Bank of the Philippines.
“We agree with the recommended key reforms and policy measures that will help the Philippines leverage digitalization for economic and social resilience, especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Citing the latest data in the August 2020 OpenSignal report, Cu said, “The report showed a substantial 80.9% increase in download speeds and 4G availability rising 19.5 percentage points from 63.75 to 83% over a period of 2.5 years.” The Open Signal report noted that mobile 4G availability in the Philippines has been increasing for at least 10 consecutive quarters, inching closer to the global average of 86.8%.
Another global internet analytics firm Ookla reported the average download speed for Fixed Broadband in the Philippines at 26.08 Mbps as of September 2020.
Cu said that the reasons behind these improvements are partially due to the increase in investments of the telco industry in terms of capital expenditures and network improvements. This was reported by the IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2020, whereby the Philippines ranked in the top 10 globally in terms of telco investments. “On top of this, we are aggressively rolling out fiber to the home in order for the country to catch up in the pervasiveness of home broadband. In fact, as of August 2020, we have already reported 51.4% higher fiber rollouts versus the entirety of 2019.”
Home broadband access remains a sore point in the country’s connectivity as only 4.18 million households or 18.19% of the 23 million households have fixed internet connectivity. For a long time, the telco industry's strategy to have pervasive internet in the country has focused heavily on mobile. With more activities shifting to home as an outcome of the pandemic, this strategy is changing as well.
Cu added that mobile internet pricing relative to other countries in Asia, the cost of prepaid internet access in the Philippines is now one of the most affordable at Php11.25 per gigabyte (GB) versus Thailand (with a comparable cost of Php190.59), Singapore (Php35.60), Indonesia (Php32.76) and Malaysia (Php4.86).
“We can expect that the country’s cost of the internet as a percent of GNI per capita will be much lower than the global average. This benefits the Philippine market even more, which is about 97% prepaid.”
“Altogether, access to the internet for Filipinos has never been more affordable and pervasive as it is now. Consistent with Globe’s perspective, digitalization creates wonderful experiences for Filipinos to have choices, overcome challenges and discover new ways to enjoy life,” Cu said.