The Senate allotted a P5.9 billion budget for telecommunications infrastructure and national broadband projects in 2021.
“I am happy to announce that with the help of my fellow senators, we pushed for the increase in the budget allocation for the national broadband because the NEP (National Expenditure Program) only gave about PHP900 million, which is actually quite laughable,” Senator Grace Poe said at the Senate committee on public services that she chairs on Monday.
According to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the government has not invested in the development of internet services in the country. The commission added big businesses that invested in internet infrastructure in the Philippines.
Senator Poe said the original proposal for the national budget was for PHP20 billion.
“We increased that to at least PHP5.9 billion for 2021. This is just for the first phase. We have to contend with the DICT’s absorptive capacity, which is why we didn’t go all out,” Poe said.
Based on the NTC data, Malaysia has invested USD233.6 million (PHP11.2 billion), the Vietnamese government has invested USD820 million (PHP39.4 billion) for internet development, Singapore has invested USD1.7 billion (PHP81.6 billion), and Thailand has spent USD343 million (PHP16.5).
Senate earmarks P5.9-B for national broadband in 2021
“We need to look at internet connectivity as a basic necessity, and government should ensure access to it especially for the underprivileged if only to make education accessible to the poor,” Poe said.
In October, the World Bank and the National Economic and Development Authority’s (NEDA) joint study revealed that Filipinos are paying for one of the most costly but slowest internet connections in the world.
The study entitled “A Better Normal Under COVID-19: Digitalizing the Philippine Economy Now” showed the Philippines fell behind neighboring middle-income countries in terms of key indicators concerning Internet services.
The report said 57 percent or 12.2 million Filipino families still do not have access to the Internet, while those who are connected suffer from slow download speeds.
The average mobile broadband download speed in the Philippines is only 16.76 megabytes per second (mbps). It is below the global average of 32.01 mbps.