Thursday, May 23, 2024

Invest more in broadband infrastructure, gov’t urged

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MANILA, Philippines — An international think tank has urged the Philippine government to invest more in broadband infrastructure to boost the country’s competitiveness in the global digital economy.

In a statement, Stratbase Institute President Professor Victor Andres “Dindo” Manhit said that while digital transformation has always been a stated priority of the current administration, it must allot more resources to upgrade the national broadband infrastructure.

He also cited the “expansion of fiber-optic networks, the deployment of 5G technology, and the enhancement of last-mile connectivity to reach underserved communities” as ways to improve it.

“Business will be able to grow and expand, entrepreneurs will be given room to innovate, and individuals will be able to use information that they could use for educational and economic advancement,” he said, backing up the call of the Private Sector Advisory Council for a bigger budget for the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

Manhit also stressed that broadband infrastructure’s “transformative potential” can best be utilized by the young and digitally savvy population.

“Broadband connectivity is no longer a luxury, something that is nice to have or an added feature,” Manhit pointed out.

“Internet connectivity is an indispensable utility of a digital economy,” he said.

“Access to fast and reliable broadband services is a fundamental requirement for full and meaningful participation in the digitalized global economy. We stand to lose so much in real and potential benefits if we do not address the gaps in the country’s digital infrastructure.” he added.

In the statement, Manhit also emphasized the Philippines’s “undermined” potential due to the digital divide.

He also cited a report from datareportal.com, which shows that 26.4 percent of the global population, or 31.24 million individuals, did not use the internet in January this year.

“Imagine if we could reach these underserved segments, and how they could contribute to economic activity as well as enhance their own technological know-how,” said Manhit.

Furthermore, Manhit said that even the World Bank itself has estimated that the Philippines’ broadband investment gap is around P110 billion a year.

This results in costly broadband services, slow internet, and a still-high percentage of the population that has no access to mobile broadband services.

Manhit also said that the country has invested less than one percent of its annual gross domestic product in telecom infrastructure, as reported by the World Bank.



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“The cost of inaction—loss of growth opportunity, people remaining unequipped for future jobs, and widening of the digital divide—are avoidable. Outdated policy and regulations have long stunted the growth of the country’s broadband industry and expansion of digital infrastructure,” the World Bank said in a report.

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