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Massive Internet Problems in the Philippines

Massive internet problems in the Philippines are not a new issue. Since moving to the Philippines over 11 years, I’ve experienced crippling, frustrating slow internet speeds. We’ve been using Globe for the past several years now. Check out the miserable results from Ookla.

Massive internet problems in the Philippines

The acronym Mbps stands for “megabits per second.” It is a measure of internet bandwidth. In simple terms, bandwidth is the download rate of your internet connection.

The graphic above from bandwidthplace.com, reveals my pathetic download, upload speeds. I have a Wi-Fi system connected to a modem. Compare my speeds to the global average from Ookla.

Let’s peek at the Top 15 countries with the fastest mobile internet speeds, again courtesy of Ookla.

#       Country & Mbps

1        South Korea…110.10

2       United Arab Emirates…107.53

3       China…103.67

4       Qatar…83.83

5       Canada…71.61

6       Netherlands…70.98

7       Norway…70.16

8      Australia…70.04

9     Bulgaria…68.94

10     Saudi Arabia…66.54

11      Macau (SAR)…65.79

12     Croatia…63.11

13     Switzerland…59.47

14     Singapore…56.95

15      New Zealand…56.81

Here are the rankings of some other countries of interest:

23     France…50.39

34     United States…44.94

44     Germany…38.74

51      United Kingdom…35.60

113    Indonesia…16.37

114 Philippines…16.17

The Bottom 10

129   India…12.16

130   Uzbekistan…11.78

131    Iraq…11.51

132   Algeria…11.17

133   Somalia…10.58

134   Bangladesh…10.53

135   Sudan…8.45

136   Venezuela…7.80

137   Palestine…7.67

138   Afghanistan…5.52

Fixed Broadband Top 10

#       Country    Mbps

1       Singapore…208.16

2       Hong Kong (SAR)…192.09

3       Thailand…171.36

4       Switzerland…164.32

5       Romania…163.54

6       Andorra…161.59

7       South Korea…158.79

8       Liechtenstein…155.92

9       Monaco…153.78

10     Macau (SAR)…151.33

The Philippines ranked 108th in this category

Cignal to Offer Internet Services in the Philippines

image source Cignal website

However, despite the massive internet problems in the Philippines, there is a glimmer of hope. Cignal TV has contracted Hughes Network Systems to provide HughesNet broadband service to its two million subscribers in the Philippines. As reported by Satellite Today.com, Hughes made the announcement on May 27, 2020.

Cignal TV will utilize Hughes’ Jupiter VSAT platform. The Hughes Jupiter System supports applications such as community Wi-Fi hotspots, cellular backhaul, enterprise networks, and In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) services, in addition to broadband internet access.

Cignal TV transmits 121 channels in the Philippines, including free-to-air, SD and HD channels to household and commercial venues. We’ve been using Cignal TV satellite services for years. Aside from adding some useless channels like RJ TV and the eGG Network, which airs video game competitions, I’ve been generally happy with Cignal. Cignal has added HITS Movies to its line-up which we enjoy watching.

No word yet on when Cignal will offer that internet service, but anything has to be better than what we have now.

Internet Woes at Philippine Senate

The Philippine Senate was holding a meeting on distance learning during the current pandemic this past July 1, 2020. However, Senator Grace Poe had to suspend the meeting earlier than she had expected due to problems with the Senate’s internet connection.

Moreover, the internet problems shouldn’t have come to a surprise to the Senators. The Philippines has some of the slowest internet speeds in the Asia Pacific region.

Rappler.com reported that Poe even had to log into the Webex videoconferencing app using her son’s account, as the Senate server could not connect to the internet.

In what Poe called a “comedy of errors,” the panel had to endure poor internet connection – a first-hand experience of what the committee sought to tackle.

“I would like to continue this hearing after we thresh out this problem with our connection. It’s quite ironic, again, that we are having connectivity issues in a hearing on connectivity,” Poe said.

“Blended” Learning?

Frankly, the ban on face-to-face classrooms has made the Philippines government enforce what they call “blended learning.” However, instead of having teachers in the classrooms, students are expected to learn their lessons at home via the internet or television. If they don’t have internet service or a TV, President Duterte expects the schoolchildren to listen to their lessons via the radio.

Moreover, no, I’m not making that up. How many kids that do have internet service will be looking at their Facebook accounts or playing video games instead of learning their class lessons?

high school iloilo

In addition, how many children will stay tuned to the TV station offering their class lessons instead of changing the channel to something more interesting?

Furthermore, please, don’t make me laugh. How many kids will actually sit by a radio to get their education? Children are at extremely low risk to the coronavirus.  There is no substitute for actual face-to-face classroom with a teacher in charge.

What about that Third Telco in the Philippines?

Moreover, whatever happened to that third Telco in the Philippines? PhilStar reported earlier this year that the coronavirus has stalled the third Telco player in the Philippines.

Globe Telecom

Dito Telecommunity was supposed to be offering competition for the existing duopoly, Globe Telecom and PLDT Inc. President Rodrigo Duterte himself vowed to dismantle the duopoly. However, like many announced plans in the Philippines, the Dito rollout has now been delayed until March 2021. The company was supposed to be operating this year, 2020. Consequently, the massive internet problems in the Philippines will continue.

Dito claims that the company’s rollout, which is 40% owned by China Telecom, was stalled by building equipment that was to be shipped out of China.

“The delay in sourcing the equipment for Dito is quite unfortunate. Switch and other equipment should have been sourced and delivered late last year, considering that it was working on a tight deadline,” Grace Mirandilla-Santos, lead convener of the Better Broadband Alliance, told Philstar.com.

Security Issues with 3rd Telco

However, I’m not the only one that has issues with a Chinese-backed telco in the Philippines.  Rappler.com in December 2019 reported that if the Chinese government-backed Dito Telecommunity meets its targeted market share, three out of every 10 smartphone-wielding Filipinos might have China’s ears directly listening in on their conversations.

However, those three Dito subscribers won’t only be talking to Dito clients. Their phone, text, and online conversations will certainly involve Globe and Smart subscribers. In addition, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, AFP, has made a deal with Dito.

The AFP is allowing the China-backed telco to build cell sites in its camps and bases. The military may actually become an accessory to China’s cyber espionage. It’s ironic that the Philippine military may in fact be helping the Chinese government that is illegally expanding its influence in the South China Sea.

Frankly, I won’t be going to a company that is 40% owned by China. I don’t trust China. I’ll simply wait for Cignal to start offering their internet service and hope for the best.

Cignal is my only hope for the massive internet problems in the Philippines

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