Globe Telecom in the Philippines has called on the government to set up a dedicated ICT department that can take steps to improve the country’s poor internet performance and prepare it to compete in the digital age.
“The Philippines is in urgent need of an agency that will drive the country’s ICT development and help steer the country to realise its full potential as a digital economy,” said Globe general counsel Froilan Castelo.
He said an ICT department, by providing the appropriate policy framework, would enable businesses as well as government agencies to work more efficiently, maximise productivity and contribute to sustaining the country’s economic growth.
Globe, the second largest operator with a 47 per cent market share, urged outgoing president Benigno Aquino to sign a bill that would create the Department of ICT (DICT) before he leaves office next month.
The proposed bill would make DICT the primary entity responsible for planning, promoting and helping develop the country’s ICT sector and ensure reliable, cost-efficient communications facilities and other multimedia infrastructure and services.
Once enacted, the measure would abolish the Information and Communications Technology Office, National Computer Centre, National Computer Institute, Telecommunications Office, National Telecommunications Training Institute and all operating units of the Department of Transportation and Communications that deal with communications. Meanwhile, the National Telecommunications Commission, National Privacy Commission and Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Centre would be attached to the DICT.
Castelo noted that as Globe continues to expand its mobile and fixed infrastructure it faces a wide range of obstacles in building more cell sites and in establishing right-of-ways. He said the creation of DICT and formulation of a policy framework for ICT development would help expedite the deployment of infrastructure such as cell sites and fibre.
The Philippines is well-known for its sluggish internet speeds. Internet metrics provider Ookla reported last year that the country had the second slowest average download speed among 22 Asian countries, averaging just 3.64Mb/s.
Its mobile broadband performance isn’t much better. According to OpenSignal, the average download speed of market leader Smart’s LTE network was 5Mb/s in Q1 2015 (on top in Asia was South Korea, with all three of the country’s players offering an average download speed of more than 15Mb/s on LTE.)