The Philippines is regarded to have one of the slowest and expensive Internet access not only among the ASEAN member states but also globally(see Table 4).
This internet access speed issue is further aggravated as internet users accessing Philippine-hosted sites pass through the U.S. before being routed back to the Philippines. It primarily affects government websites, thus, not making their services easily accessible to stakeholders.
For example, on 15 April 2015, the Bureau of Internal Revenue online services received a lot of complaints as various taxpayers experienced difficulty in filing their tax returns online. One of the reasons attributed to this is that internet traffic needs to pass through the U.S. even if Filipinos are accessing government sites whose servers are located in the Philippines.
The government is pressured by Filipino internet users complaining on the quality of internet service in various locations of the country. The limited number of service providers in this area hinders choice as well.
Addressing this concern is considered as top priority, which must be attended to with short-term and long-term solutions in mind. The DOST-ICTO’s Free Wi-Fi Nationwide program is seen as one of the solutions with the intent of ensuring that government services are accessible locally, i.e., without the need for internet traffic to go outside of the Philippines and back to be able to access them. Free Wi-Fi provided by major malls and commercial establishments are welcome developments.
For the long-term, however, we need more service providers that can meet the market demand for better and globally competitive internet services.
It is expected that the Philippine Competition Act, which was enacted on 21 July 2015, will encourage more competition in the telecommunications sector that could result to better services at lower cost.