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The Philippines currently has a modest 52-percent Internet penetration rate, nearly doubled in the past four years from 27-percent in 2010. The average connection speed is about 2.1 Mbps, with a little above 8-percent of the users enjoying connection speeds faster than 4 Mbps. In terms of user devices, laptops (45%) are the most preferred over desktops and mobile devices for Internet access. However, with only 20-percent of the total households having computers, a significant portion of the population still do not benefit from the Internet access despite the fact that each Filipino owns at least one phone or mobile device.

Data from the Department of Education as of April 2014 elucidates the situation well:

dep_ed 2014

Most of the countryside is in a “vicious cycle”, where most citizens are unable to afford broadband Internet, giving little to no incentive for private sector Internet Service Providers to invest for lack of an acceptable return on investment. The absence of available services however prevents opportunities and benefits, which includes online public services, from reaching these areas. This results in a widening gap as the served areas progress and the unserved and underserved areas remain disconnected. This “vicious cycle” must be stopped through appropriate government and private sector interventions.

On top of the agency’s programs in improving the country’s Internet connectivity, such as the iGovPhil Project and the TV White Space (TVWS) technologies adoption initiative, the DOST ICT Office aims to extend the coverage of broadband Internet connectivity through the Juan Konek Free Wi-Fi Internet Access in Public Places Project.

Any increase in Internet connectivity will jumpstart economic development by giving access to e-Commerce, e-Learning, e-Health and e-Government tools to beneficiaries. This will subsequently lead to increasing incomes in the underserved and unserved areas. World Bank studies have shown that for every 10 percent increase in broadband connectivity results in a 1.38 percent increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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