Lapid seeks probe on Philippines internet connectivity

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
Lapid seeks probe on Philippines internet connectivity
In filing Senate Resolution No. 414, Senator Lito Lapid said even the upcoming resumption of classes would rely heavily on online or distance learning.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Lito Lapid is seeking an inquiry on the status of the country’s internet connectivity and relevant parameters as many offices rely on work-from-home arrangements to limit the movement of employees amid the easing of quarantine protocols starting this week.

In filing Senate Resolution No. 414, Lapid said even the upcoming resumption of classes would rely heavily on online or distance learning.

“The shift in the mode of work and education, including our day-to-day transactions like banking and online shopping, will rely on stable and fast internet connectivity,” Lapid said yesterday.

Resolution 414 is seeking a Senate inquiry, in aid of legislation, on internet connectivity, speed, bandwidth capacity and parameters in light of the “new normal” that will be observed as the country continues to face a pandemic.

“Working from home and online classes arrangement will be effective only if we will have fast and effective and efficient internet connection. The internet will be the capital of offices, business and schools to ensure smooth operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

President Duterte has approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force to place a majority of areas in the country under general community quarantine or modified GCQ.

Lapid said the Philippines has not fared well, historically, in terms of internet speed compared to other countries.

Quoting the April 2020 Speed Test Global Index, Lapid said the Philippines ranks 121st out of 139 countries in terms of mobile internet speed. On the aspect of fixed broadband connection speed, the country placed 110th out of 174.

Based on 2019 data compiled by Tower Xchange, there are only 17,850 cell sites in the country, compared with over 90,000 cell sites in Vietnam, which has approximately the same land area.

Lapid pointed out that even in Senate sessions, hearings and meetings where they adopt hybrid virtual mode, there have been times when they experienced erratic and slow internet connection.

He expressed belief that determining the actual state of connectivity is necessary to properly re-calibrate laws and policies in response to the possible skyrocketing of demand and number of users in the coming months.

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