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'4 of 5 Filipino homes have no Internet access'

MANILA, Philippines - Although Filipinos are known for being among the most social media savvy in the world, internet coverage of homes in the Philippines remains low.

Owing to this, lawmakers on Friday urged telecommunication companies to lower their broadband service rates so more Filipinos can have Internet access at their homes to help them information needs for education, business and other personal uses.

Reps. Janette Garin (1st District, Iloilo) and Girogidi Aggabao (4th District, Isabela) made the call in light of a recent survey by US-based research institute Gallup showing that only about one in five Filipino homes has internet access.

Garin, a Senior Deputy Majority Leader, said cheaper broadband service rates would certainly allow more Filipinos to have home Internet access.

“Having internet access will be of big help to Filipinos especially those students who sometimes have to stay late at computer shops to research on their assignments online,” said Garin.

She said lowering broadband service rates by at least 50 percent would be rational and allow more Filipinos to subscribe because of cheaper costs.

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The basic rate of telecommunication companies varies with some charging P999 for a monthly subscription of 1.5Mbps Internet speed usage.

Aggabao, a Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said making broadband service rates more affordable is necessary and justified to enable Filipinos more access to the information highway.

“It’s ironic that while the Philippines has been considered a center for social media, majority of Filipinos have no Internet access at their very own homes. Because of the high cost of broadband subscription, Filipinos would rather spend on other essential items like food, transportation, water and electricity bills,” Aggabao said.

Aggabao said home Internet connections would allow more Filipinos easy access to vital information like news and livelihood opportunities.

“They can get all these important and helpful information anytime they want to at home. We call on telecommunication companies to be more considerate by cutting their Internet service costs to help Filipinos still without home Internet access,” he said.

According to pollster Gallup, “the more people have Internet access in their homes, the more likely they are to have easy access to news and information, and in some cases, to sell and buy products online.” It cited the relatively low home Internet penetration rate in the Philippines, which may be due to the fact that the country is among the world's more highly populated nations. The other countries where home Internet coverage is low are Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Mexico according to Gallup.

The Gallup survey complemented a United Nations report in September that cited 71 percent of Filipinos had no access to Internet through any means. 

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