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A recent report of research firm OpenSignal showed Metro Manila’s average 4G download and upload speeds have been ranked among the worst across 12 major cities in East Asia.

Covering 12 major cities in East Asia, OpenSignal’s report showed Manila’s 4G download speed was 16.9 megabits per second (Mbps) or below the global average. Along with Manila in the bottom rank are Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Phnom Penh and Jakarta.

On the other hand, the research firm said Seoul and Singapore “are in a class of their own,” with an average download speeds greater than 45 Mbps.
So, what else is new?

In May last year, Akamai Technologies said global average connection speed “increased 2.3 percent quarter-over-quarter to 7.2 Mbps, a 15 percent increase compared with one year prior.” However, the Philippines falls short of the global average, with an average connection speed of just 5.5 Mbps.

When he arrived here last year, Alibaba founder, billionaire Jack Ma, said he tried to test the Internet speed here and it’s “no good.”

Given this sorry situation, the government must waste no time in providing Filipinos with improved Internet speeds and lower costs.

Internet is not only for entertainment or leisure — it is increasingly becoming important in commerce and government transactions as well.

To put this in perspective, the Statistics Portal showed in 2017, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to $2.3 trillion and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to $4.88 trillion in 2021. The top 3 online stores’ revenue amounted to almost $100 billion in 2017.

But there seems to be some progress being made. Just recently, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) decided on the terms of reference in selecting a new major telco player.

The DICT chose the parameter of highest committed level of service rather than a mere auction. That appears to be the better choice as reports said 11 or 75 percent of the 15 interested telcos favored the chosen terms of reference.

Last month, the DICT, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) and the National Transmission Corp. (TransCo) signed the memorandum of agreement (MoA) to start the national broadband project which aims to provide high-speed public wi-fi for Filipinos.

Under the MoA, the government is allowed free use of their “dark fiber” or 6,000 kilometers of fiber-optic with the national grid.

No less than President Duterte himself has expressed frustration over slow Internet speeds.
It’s up to the DICT now to speed up the selection of the third major telco player that would hopefully spur competition and result to better Internet speeds. Likewise, it must proceed full speed with the implementation of the National Broadband Project.

A faster and cheaper Internet would open up business and development opportunities in the country and help us catch up with our neighbors, who are continuously ramping up their infrastructure for faster connection speeds.

Let’s get real and get the job done. It’s only in the fables where the turtle overtakes the hare.