Faster internet speed

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes - The Philippine Star

Amidst all the talk about the need for a third strong telecommunications industry player, our government may not be aware that the Philippine has the most improved internet speed in Asia.

According to the Ookla Speedtest Global Index dated April 2018 for fixed broadband, from 3.5Mbps in 2014, the country’s internet speed improved 403 percent to 17.62 Mbps in 2018.

Ookla is considered the global leader in internet testing, data, and analysis. Its flagship product Speedtest is described by the company as the most accurate way to measure internet performance and network diagnostics.

Second on the most improved list is Malaysia, which improved from 5.48 Mbps to 26.9 Mbps (391 percent), followed by China whose speed went up from 19.5 Mbps to 75.43 Mbps (287 percent); Indonesia, from 4.3 to 15.31 (256 percent); Brunei, from 5.51 to 15.31 (178 percent); Singapore from 66.6 to 174.94 (163 percent); Laos from 4.5 to 11.71 (160 percent); Thailand from 18.9 to 44.8 Mbps (147 percent); Cambodia from 5.9 to 13.23 (124 percent); Japan from 41.5 to 76.31 (84 percent); Hongkong from 78.3 to 141.05 (80 percent); Vietnam from 14.2 to 24.8 (75 percent); Myanmar from 5 to 8.35 (67 percent); and Taiwan from 39.3 to 54.06 (38 percent).

The same report revealed that the Philippines climbed to 9th out of 14 Asian countries in terms of internet speed. So definitely, we are not the bottom dweller as some would have the President believe.

Telecom officials expect the country’s internet speed to become even faster given the record capital expenditures of both PLDT/Smart and Globe Telecom this year.

Earlier this year, PLDT announced that midway through its historic five-year P260 billion capital expenditure program covering 2016 to 2020, it is accelerating its efforts to transform, modernize, and expand its fixed and mobile networks to bring world-class communications, internet, and digital services to the country.

For this year, PLDT’s capex will exceed a record-high P50 billion and is expected to stay at that level for the next two years.

The P260 billion is on top of the nearly P175 billion capex that PLDT invested from 2011 to 2015 for network building.

For its fixed line business, PLDT is doubling its fiber and hybrid fiber broadband capacity to over 2.2 million ports. Of the increase, around 650,000 will be for fiber, while 550,000 will be for hybrid fiber broadband. By 2019, the company said that almost all of its 1.2 million copper-based DSL subscribers will enjoy fiber-fast internet.

Meanwhile, PLDT’s mobile subsidiary Smart is doubling its LTE base stations, increasing the number of LTE-equipped cellsites, among others, to significantly boost internet speeds for mobile customers of Smart, Sun Cellular, and TNT.

For its part, Globe Telecom has approved a P42.5 billion cash capex budget for 2018 mainly to meet customer demand for more bandwidth-intensive content, and to fund the development of its advanced technology to enhance and expand its LTE network in order to accommodate more users and to prove faster mobile and fixed broadband speed.

According to news reports, the Ayala-led telecom company expects between $850 to $950 million in annual capital spending budget until 2020 in a bid to continuously upgrade its network for the fast-growing data business.

Execs still positive about economy

A recently released survey by global research and consultancy firm Oxford Business Group (OBG) gives us an interesting insight on how local executives feel about the economy and specific issues in general.

According to the 2018 edition of the OBG Business Barometer: Philippines CEO Survey, majority of the executives (92 percent) interviewed felt positive about the outlook for the coming 12 months, although opinion was divided on whether the potential shift towards federalism and the ongoing efforts to reform the tax system would benefit the country’s economic development.

As part of its survey on the Philippines, OBG asked over 130 executives from different industries several questions on a face-to-face basis to gauge business sentiment.

Meanwhile, 74 percent said their firm would likely or very likely make a significant capital investment within the same period.

OBG said in a press statement that business leaders expressed concern on a number of key issues, including the current tax environment, which they described as either very uncompetitive or uncompetitive on a global scale, with 71 percent of the respondents saying so.

OBG explained that the sentiment improved after the first TRAIN package became effective on Jan. 1, with 82 percent of those surveyed prior to its enforcement describing the tax regime as uncompetitive or very uncompetitive, against 65 percent thereafter.

The survey also revealed that while 43 percent said they felt that further empowering local government units or shifting to a federal political system would be advantageous or very advantageous, 40 percent believe the reforms were more likely to be disadvantageous or very disadvantageous.

OBG regional editor for Asia Patrick Cooke said the Philippines’ track record of growth of above six percent for six consecutive years had evidently helped to generate an overwhelmingly positive sentiment among executives, even though topical issues, such as federalism, remained divisive.

Cooke added that while the Philippines faces challenges like chronic income inequality and underemployment, rising inflation and a ballooning current account deficit which pose both long- and short-term risks, there are more than enough reasons to be optimistic, “as one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies embarks on a $36 billion infrastructure drive that should address many of its existing productivity bottlenecks.”

The full results of the survey on the Philippines will be made available online and in print.

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