Marcos laments lack of urgency to speed up net

SENATOR Imee Marcos on Wednesday decried the government’s seeming lack of urgency in improving the slow internet speed in the country amid a clear global shift to digital solutions that could keep life going in the time of COVID-19.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, called on the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to “step up to the call of the times” and ensure that digital infrastructure gains the same priority as public works and transportation projects in the government’s Build-Build-build program.

“Let’s level up, DICT! The Philippines is Asia’s laggard when it comes to internet speed, at only 3.5 mbps. Upgrading the country’s digital capacity is urgent and long overdue,” Marcos said.

“Whatever happened to the entry of a third telco player? The public eagerly awaits an update on the timelines of DICT’s programs,” Marcos added.

Internet speed in smaller neighbouring economies like Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia is faster than in the Philippines, with highly developed states like Singapore and Hong Kong 19 to 22 times faster, according to the Ookla Net Index, known worldwide for its tests on internet performance.

“A robust digital economy is our hope for a post-COVID future! Slow internet speed plus limited online access equals a sluggish economy and a sorry standard of living, more so for local government units in more remote areas of the country,” Marcos said.

Marcos added that the government’s success in contact tracing, online education, e-commerce and e-jobs, and even crime-busting and future elections will depend greatly on reliable digital infrastructure.

“The reception to proposed taxes on online businesses could have also been warmer if entrepreneurs were already assured of digital support,” Marcos also said.