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June 1, 2016 at 6:47 am

UPDATED: Why the Internet in the Philippines is So Slow?



San Miguel had already sold its 700 MHz spectrum to Globe and PLDT

Globe and PLDT started using the spectrum earlier this month

Both are planning to roll out the activation of the 200 cell sites progressively


If there is one thing the Philippines is notoriously known for that would be its slow Internet connection. Foreigners loathe such, having experienced super-fast Internet in their and other countries. It is even dubbed as the worst Internet service in Asia.

Do you ever wonder why the Internet in the country is so slow? We do.

slow internet in the philippines

Reasons for slow Internet


An archipelago of more than 7,100 islands, having fixed networks continues to be a real challenge among service providers – current and would-be entrants. Not to mention, a duopoly exists wherein the available infrastructure is controlled by the Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) Co. and Globe Telecom Inc.

Internet peering is not possible because of this, which is another factor for the slow broadband services. PLDT charges other providers for traffic riding on its networks.

Yet another issue we can look at is the fact that the Philippines has 15,000 cell sites. Not a lot, especially when compared to our neighboring countries. Indonesia has 76,477; Vietnam has 55,000; Thailand has 52,483 and even Bangladesh has 27,000 cell sites. Thereby, the telcos (telecommunications companies) are working based on what is available to them.

With all these, network modernization will certainly help. Additional cell sites will build more capacity, for example. But, the future might be bleak considering the billions of pesos required to support such an ambitious plan.

Not to mention the red tape involved at the local government units as well as the indignation of the militant groups who often respond through burning cell sites. For a telco to build a cell site, it needs to secure about 25 permits prior to approval. The actual construction of the cell site takes about 8 months, too.


DSL still proliferates in the country instead of the faster technology FTTH or fiber-to-the-home. In 2015, only 2% of the connections in the country were FTTH and the rest was DSL. Indeed, adoption of other more advanced technologies such as 4G-LTE. The majority of subscriptions are still 2G and 3G.


Despite being a relatively poor country, the Filipinos need to pay around $60 a month for high-speed broadband services. That’s even higher than what people pay in the US. Thus, Internet service is considered as a luxury by the locals.

For all one knows, only the wealthy and mid to upscale establishments can afford it. It’s one of the slowest services in the world and yet it is also one of the most expensive more than three times the global average. We are actually paying $18.19 per Mbps when the global average is only $5.21!

Anyhow, mobile providers offer free data on a daily basis although the connection is limited to Facebook and other social media sites. But, for sure, this is not enough.

The future President’s mandate

Evidently, the reasons are diverse and they come from all directions. And, the fact that the negotiations between San Miguel Corporation and Telstra had been terminated in March 2015 due to undisclosed reasons. It could have been the only hope for a faster Internet and it’s all gone now.

So, yes, there is hope. The Presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte himself warns the telcos provide better Internet services to the users or they will face foreign competition.

Conceivably, the giant telcos welcomed the challenge, citing that they too have strategic plans on how they themselves can improve their services.

For the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), nevertheless, the government should also do its part. It should support building more fiber optics and base stations. Infrastructure must be prioritized particularly in those areas without any connectivity at all.

Whether we will experience a fast Internet connection in the future is still uncertain. Let’s be hopeful! That’s one thing we can do now. The other? Put pressure on the government to keep its promise of providing us the Internet connectivity we deserve. We’ll see…

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