#AnimatED: Don't take Internet for granted
The part of the world that has the Internet takes what the Internet can do for granted.
If we think of the Internet as a provider of information – from updates on our loved ones to weather alerts and educational materials – and as an equalizer against the status quo – where everyone's voice can be heard for whatever reason on whatever contentious topic rules the day – then it is a powerful force indeed.
If we think of the Internet as a force that enhances our ability to act, then our own human powers are amplified by the creativity we hold with how we use the information we find.
Senator Bam Aquino himself said, "The facets of the Internet go beyond just communications. If we want to grow this country, we have to solve this Internet issue fast."
No less than Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, in her keynote at Rappler's 2015 Social Good Summit on September 26, did a "negative shoutout" to the Philippines' telco providers for the country's "outrageously slow" Internet.
Indeed, there is a problem with taking the power of the Internet for granted. The state of the Philippine Internet is not great, not only because it is slow, but because it is scarce. The Philippines ranks 106th out of 191 countries in terms of the percentage of individuals (39.7%) using the Internet.
According to the latest data, among 133 developing countries, we rank 59th with 26.9% of households having Internet. As of last count, the Philippines at 3.7 Mbps (megabits per second) lags behind the 24.2 Mbps global average.
Worse still, 57% of the world's population remains offline – a fact that you might only really know if you had Internet access to check the data. The Philippine Internet is scarce because of prohibitive pricing and metered plans that carry volume allowances. For instance, the price of 2Mbps of Internet in the Philippines is 2/3 around 2/3 the price of 300 Mbps Internet in Singapore. Meanwhile mobile plans – the primary method of gaining access in a country where fixed broadrand prices are prohibitive – are metered: go beyond its limits and your speed is throttled.
This needs to change.
There are a number of different ways in which we can potentially solve the issue of slow, costly Internet, and very little of it has to do with engaging social media managers on brand websites.
On one front, forcing companies to compete – and thus worry about their bottom line – would help foster growth and discourage complacency. If Australia's Telstra, for example, wants to shake things up in the Philippines and make the main two providers in the country work for their keep, then let them duke it out.
On another front, the government should also put its foot down when it comes to having a neutral local Internet exchange for IP peering. If a neutral IX were in place that was supported by telecommunications companies, Internet Service Providers, and foreign companies could peer with one another, it should translate to faster connectivity for sites across all networks in the country, with less overall cost to many companies who are part of the Internet exchange
Of course, this can only be done through an exercise of political will: our will as Filipinos.
Make the state of the Philippine Internet an issue that will affect political careers. Instead of going to an ISP to complain about their service, gently remind the members of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and our current and future president that we need more players in the Internet game and better development and monitoring of Internet services and pricing so as to maintain a high standard of quality that Filipinos can reliably use.
And this should be one other notch on their agenda of issues to tackle before and after the elections. A few hundred thousand messages to every senator on Facebook will likely do the trick.
More importantly, instead of defacing the National Telecommunications Commission, which is trying to do the job it's mandated for with regard to Internet connectivity, you can take the time to talk to the Deparment of Trade and Industry and report accusations of false advertising or any other deceptive claims.
The DTI also has a Facebook page, and you can ask them for the email address of their Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau, along with what's required to get a complaint off the ground.
The change we deserve as a nation will not be immediate, but if we find the information we need to act properly as a people, then change will come. We just have to keep pushing for it. – Rappler.com