Click here to close now.


@CloudExpo Authors: David Dodd, Ed Featherston, Liz McMillan, Chris Fleck, Anders Wallgren

Related Topics: @CloudExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

Internet in the Philippines - Why So Slow?

The Country Badly Trails Neighboring Malaysia and Vietnam

To judge by conversations I've had, tweets that I've read, and my own experience, there is dissatisfaction with bandwidth speeds in the Philippines.

This is a serious issue in an age when high-speed connections are a primary driver of social and economic development, as they empower social networking, increase the ability of manufacturers and service providers to compete globally, and facilitate innovation.

Give me a connection fast enough and I can move the world. The problem in the Philippines, and in many other places, is the connections simply aren't fast enough.

A Relative Comparison
I did a recent study comparing bandwidth speeds against the relative wealth of societies. The idea is that a highly developed nation should be able to afford the infrastructure for higher speed connections. Thus, a 10- to 11-Mbps average in the United States is less impressive than a similar speed in, say, Russia.

By looking at bandwidth this way, on a relative basis, I uncovered some stars and some laggards.

Overall, the Top 10 countries - in terms of the amount of bandwidth they get for each dollar of per-person income - include several former Soviet satellites, Vietnam, and South Korea. The United States is in the middle of the pack of the 82 countries I surveyed.

By region, Canada leads North America, Chile leads Central and South America, Sweden leads Western Europe, Ukraine leads Eastern Europe, Kenya leads Sub-Saharan Africa, Morocco leads Northern Africa, and the UAE leads the Middle East.

In Southeast Asia, Vietnam is the clear leader among the "Big Six" economies, followed by Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

The Philippines' average speed of 1.7Mbps badly trails those of neighboring Malaysia (3.1Mbps) and Vietnam (9.2Mbps).

I have not yet factored the percentage of people who have access to the Internet into the formula, nor what percentage of usage is by individuals versus business and government. This could be a critical factor, for example, in weighing the Internet's benefit to society within the Philippines' democracy versus Vietnam's Communist regime.

Why So Slow?
But let's not distracted from the question at hand: why do we get such slow connections in the Philippines?

It's easy enough to blame the country's two major telcos - PLDT (which does business in the wireless space as Smart Communications) and Globe Telecom - and SkyCable, its primary DSL provider.

Although the telcos have significant international investors, all of these companies are run by some of the local oligarchs who own most things in the Philippines. The country's constitution forbids more than 40% ownership in most businesses, which of course hardly makes for a free competitive market in the country.

Telcos aren't the most competition-friendly companies anywhere, as Americans familiar with Verizon, AT&T, Canadians familiar with Telus and Rogers, and many others can attest. Cable companies are no better.

Back to Bandwidth
So moving away from debate about the Philippines' 60/40 rule, it could be that there is simply not enough bandwidth entering the country at this point, regardless of how the providers are owned and run.

Based on information provided by Philippine developer JP Loh, Michael Hamlin at TeamAsia, and the government's Office on Information and Communications Technology (OICT), there is about 1.18Tbps coming into the Philippines from eight fiber-optic submarine cables.

(A much smaller amount comes from two communications satellites, including Mabuhay One, funded partly by PLDT and launched into space by the Chinese in 1997.)

Yet that 1.18Tbps will support only one million 1Mbps running at full blast simultaneously. Given that an estimated 30 million people in the country access the Internet, the number of connections is certainly in the millions. Seems there's something not adding up well here.

The country is due for a major upgrade late this year, when the Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE) comes online. This is a 4,300-mile, US$300 million behemoth serving Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore. It is funded partially by PLDT, and is said to have 15Tbps capacity, more than ten times the amount entering the Philippines today.

What Then?
How much of that will be provisioned to the Philippines is unknown, as is how much of the provisioning will be deployed.

The major source of frustration for me - and from what I've heard, from others - in the Philippines is not the speed per se but a pervasive failure by the providers to deliver what they promise.

My own situation is that PLDT, which has a major office two blocks from me, hasn't accepted new wired service requests for some time, Globe doesn't accept any new requests in my neighborhood, and SkyCable could only provide TV service. 

I had once choice, a wireless connection from PLDT's Smart subsidiary - it promises 1Mbps but usually delivers 200-300Kbps, throttled down to dial-up speeds most week-ends. As I said, dissatisfaction.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@CloudExpo Stories
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at, explored the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and provided a hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He examined three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. Asaf Yigal is co-founder and VP of Product at log analytics software company In the past, he was co-founder of social-trading platform Currensee, which...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
In recent years, at least 40% of companies using cloud applications have experienced data loss. One of the best prevention against cloud data loss is backing up your cloud data. In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Sam McIntyre, Partner Enablement Specialist at eFolder, presented how organizations can use eFolder Cloudfinder to automate backups of cloud application data. He also demonstrated how easy it is to search and restore cloud application data using Cloudfinder.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty ...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, San...
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing & protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. CommVault can ensure protection & E-Discovery of your data - whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise.
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, explored the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving t...
There are over 120 breakout sessions in all, with Keynotes, General Sessions, and Power Panels adding to three days of incredibly rich presentations and content. Join @ThingsExpo conference chair Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040), June 7-9, 2016 in New York City, for three days of intense 'Internet of Things' discussion and focus, including Big Data's indespensable role in IoT, Smart Grids and Industrial Internet of Things, Wearables and Consumer IoT, as well as (new) IoT's use in Vertical Markets.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningf...
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Su...
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and t...