Internet in the Philippines: Why is It Slow and Expensive?

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Published on: June 3, 2021 Last updated: June 15, 2021

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One of the painful realities that every Filipino must face is the slow internet connection in the country. Even if you have the most expensive data plan, chances are you’ll still be frustrated by the sluggishness and unreliability of your connection.

Yes, one can argue that the country’s internet connection is not as bad or as slow as the dial-up internet back in the early 2000s. But still, the standards have changed, and our country has to keep up. After all, the internet has already become an important aspect of our lives. Its significance has been underscored during the pandemic when most professionals are working from home, and students are taking their classes online.

The internet connection in the Philippines has always been the subject of many discussions in different contexts, ranging from politics to comedy. But have you ever wondered what has led us to this telecommunications problem?

In this article, you’ll find out the possible reasons behind the status of the country’s internet. You’ll also get a picture of how the Philippines’ connectivity fares on a global scale.

How Fast (or Slow) is the Internet in the Philippines?

Based on an Ookla Speedtest[1] conducted at the time of this article’s writing, the Philippines ranks at the lower part of the world index in terms of average broadband and mobile speeds. At 29.12Mbps average mobile speed, the Philippines has landed the 84th spot out of 134. And with 49.31Mbps for the average broadband speed, the country has landed 80th place out of 176.

To give you a better perspective of things, here are the Philippines’ internet speeds compared with those of other countries.

Internet Speeds of the Philippines vs. Other Countries

CountryAverage Mobile Download SpeedAverage Broadband Download Speed
South Korea241.58Mbps186.06Mbps
China172.95Mbps149.40Mbps
Australia118.24Mbps77.8Mbps
Singapore79.25Mbps245.50Mbps
Hong Kong76.98Mbps240.83Mps
Iraq35.47Mbps29.88Mbps
Philippines29.12Mbps49.31Mbps
Sri Lanka17.75Mbps30.44Mbps
India12.81Mbps55.76Mbps
Bangladesh11.32Mbps36.02Mbps

Just looking at the figures above will reaffirm your worry and anxiety that the country’s internet is lagging behind. The country’s average mobile download speed is a far cry from South Korea’s 241.58Mbps. On the other hand, the Philippines’ average broadband download speed is many steps behind Singapore’s 245.50Mbps.

See also: How to Check Your Broadband Performance with Internet Speed Tests

Average Cost of Monthly Internet Services in the Philippines

The internet in the Philippines is already slow. But what makes it worse is the fact that it is expensive. With that, a lot of us can’t help but feel shortchanged.

Take a look at the table below to get an idea of how the Philippines fares when it comes to the price of the internet.[2]

Note: The prices were converted to Philippine peso using the exchange rate available at the time of this writing (1 USD = PHP 47.79).

CountryPrice per Month (with 60Mbps Average Speed)
United Arab EmiratesUSD 98.45 (PHP 4,704)
United StatesUSD 65.81 (PHP 3,145)
New ZealandUSD 59.40 (PHP 2,838)
NetherlandsUSD 48.08 (PHP 2,297)
PhilippinesUSD 47.15 (PHP 2,253)
United KingdomUSD 43.97 (PHP 2,101)
JapanUSD 43.15 (PHP 2,061)
GermanyUSD 39.55 (PHP 1,889)
SwedenUSD 35.74 (PHP 1,708)
IndonesiaUSD 31.70 (PHP 1,515)
MalaysiaUSD 30.58 (PHP 1,461)
FinlandUSD 29.30 (PHP 1,400)
TaiwanUSD 26.63 (PHP 1,272)
South KoreaUSD 24.90 (PHP 1,189)

So Why is the Internet in the Philippines Slow and Expensive?

internet in the philippines - why is it slow and expensive

There are a lot of reasons the internet connection in the Philippines is almost substandard and unreliable. If you look closer, these reasons are interconnected to each other. It’s like a domino effect; one problem may lead to another problem.

Below are some of the possible reasons for the sorry state of the country’s internet connection.

1. The Philippines is an Archipelago

The country is blessed with stunning and world-class beaches, which offer a respite from the stress of urban life. And that’s all thanks to the Philippines’s 7,641 islands. However, it turns out that having thousands of islands is a double-edged sword.

Since the islands in the Philippines are not supported by robust infrastructures, bringing materials for the construction of cell towers to different parts of the country is surely problematic. It will definitely take time.

2. Building Cell Towers is Expensive

You have a problem in the logistics of the construction of the cell towers. Transport of materials can be expensive and laborious. However, woes related to time and money also manifest in the application for the construction of the cell towers.

Globe Telecom President and CEO Ernest Cu has already brought the concern out in the open.[4] He said that the process for the permit applications for cell towers is costly and time-consuming. He made it known that they had been experiencing this for many years now.

According to Cu, it takes about 25 to 29 permits and eight months to build a single tower. At this pace, one can safely assume that Globe can build only one cell tower per year. And that leads to a string of problems regarding connectivity.

It’s apparent that much of the burden is still being carried by the private sector.

3. There are Not Many Players in the Industry

Another factor that contributes to the poor internet service in the Philippines is the lack of competition. Right now, there are only two giants battling it out in the field: PLDT and Globe Telecom. While there are many small and mid-sized players, a lot of them don’t provide comprehensive services and are often just dedicated to a specific area of business (For one, some are just focused on providing fixed broadband plans).

When the competition is limited, the leading companies will not be compelled to up their game or improve their services and infrastructures. However, things are looking up, especially now that the government has granted DITO, the country’s third telco player, a 25-year franchise.[5]

The China-led company is believed to disrupt the long-standing duopoly in the country. And while it’s still at its infancy stage, a lot are already putting their faith in it. But we’re yet to find out if it will live up to everyone’s great expectations.

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What is NTC’s Role in Internet Quality and Speed?

Every now and then, you hear something about the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in the news. But what exactly does the Commission do?

The NTC’s job is to make sure that the internet speed being delivered to the Filipino consumers is accurate. Together with the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology, the NTC sees to it that the internet every client uses is true to what the service provider has advertised.

As of early 2021, the NTC reported that the Philippines has about 22,384 cell sites. Globe has built 10,395 cell sites as of December 2020. Smart, on the other hand, has 10,079. Meanwhile, DITO has 2,360 cell sites.[6]

Still, the country is lagging behind other ASEAN countries. For context, Vietnam has 90,000 cell towers.

List of Internet Providers in the Philippines

internet in the philippines - internet philippines provider

Complaining about the high cost and low quality of the internet in the Philippines is surely an act in vain. Obviously, we must take what we can get. If you have the resources, picking the best internet provider in the Philippines (based on your location and needs) will be your best bet.

Nevertheless, here’s a list of internet providers in the Philippines, their plans, service specs, and prices.

1. PLDT

One of the two telco giants in the Philippines, PLDT offers unlimited fiber plans with speeds ranging from 35Mbps to 1,000Mbps. The company was once known for offering DSL plans. But according to its website, the service is no longer available. PLDT encourages those who view the DSL service catalog online to switch to its Fibr plans.

PLDT Fibr Plans

PlanSpeedLimitPrice
PLDT Home Unli Fibr 169935MbpsUnlimitedPHP 1,699
PLDT Home Unli Fibr 209950MbpsUnlimitedPHP 2,099
PLDT Home Unli Fibr 2699100MbpsUnlimitedPHP 2,699
PLDT Home Unli Fibr Plan 3799200MbpsUnlimitedPHP 3,799
PLDT Home Unli Fibr Plan 5799600MbpsUnlimitedPHP 5,799
PLDT Home Unli Fibr Plan 94991,000MbpsUnlimitedPHP 9,499

 2. Globe

The other telco giant offers a mix of wired and wireless internet services. For the wireless services, you can choose from different LTE plans with speeds ranging from 10Mbps to 20Mbps. Just remember, though, that the company’s LTE plans have a cap.

For Globe’s wired internet services, speeds range from 10Mbps (with a 500GB monthly cap) to 1Gbps. Customers may also be able to enjoy a 50% discount on their Globe At Home Plan for six months in case they’re Globe Mobile Postpaid subscribers.

Globe Broadband and LTE Plans

PlanSpeedLimitPrice
Globe At Home Go Big LTE 129910Mps150GBPHP 1,299
Globe At Home Go Big LTE 159910Mbps500GBPHP 1,599
Globe At Home Go Big 169920Mbps600GBPHP 1,699
Globe At Home Go Big Plan 1299 (wired)10Mbps500GBPHP 1,299
Globe At Home Unli Fiber Up 149920MbpsUnlimitedPHP 1,499
Globe At Home Unli Fiber Up 169925MbpsUnlimitedPHP 1,699
Globe At Home Unli Fiber Up 189935MbpsUnlimitedPHP 1,899
Globe At Home Unli Fiber Up 2499100MbpsUnlimitedPHP 2,899
Globe At Home Unli Fiber Up 3499200MbpsUnlimitedPHP 3,499
Globe At Home Unli Fiber Up 4999500MbpsUnlimitedPHP 4,999
Globe At Home Unli Fiber Up 94991GbpsUnlimitedPHP 9,499

Read more: LTE Broadband Plans in the Philippines: What are Your Options?

 3. Converge ICT

While currently a minor player in the telecommunications industry, Converge is slowly gaining traction with clients, especially in provinces, thanks to its high-speed internet plans with reasonable prices.

For as low as PHP 1,500 per month, you get internet service with a speed of 35Mbps.

The internet service provider proudly announces that it has partnered with leading telco brands from all over the world, such as Verizon, Singtel, Tata Communications, Sprint, and Telstra, among others.

Converge Broadband Plans

PlanSpeedLimitPrice
Fiber X 150035MbpsUnlimitedPHP 1,500
Fiber X 2500100MbpsUnlimitedPHP 2,500
Fiber X 3500200MbpsUnlimitedPHP 3,500
Fiber Xtreme 4500400MbpsUnlimitedPHP 4,500
Fiber Xtreme 7000800 MbpsUnlimitedPHP 7,000
iBiz 1010MbpsUnlimitedPHP 4,000
iBiz 2020MbpsUnlimitedPHP 6,000
iBiz 3030MbpsUnlimitedPHP 9,000

4. SKY

When you hear the brand SKY, you automatically associate it with cable services. However, it also offers broadband plans that can be bundled with cable TV services. Their rates are reasonable—you can get a 20Mbps internet service for only PHP 999 per month. But if you want to bundle your Plan 999 with cable TV, SKY will downgrade your internet speed to 10Mbps. It’s still a fair deal, though.

SKY Fiber Unli Broadband Plans

PlanSpeedLimitPrice
SKY Fiber Unli Broadband 99920MbpsUnlimitedPHP 999
SKY Fiber Unli Broadband 149940MbpsUnlimitedPHP 1,499
SKY Fiber Unli Broadband 199980MbpsUnlimitedPHP 1,999
SKY Fiber Unli Broadband 2499120MbpsUnlimitedPHP 2,499
SKY Fiber Unli Broadband 3499200MbpsUnlimitedPHP 3,499
Sky Fiber Unli Broadband + HD Cable TV Plan 99910MbpsUnlimitedPHP 999
Sky Fiber Unli Broadband + HD Cable TV Plan 1,59930MbpsUnlimitedPHP 1,599
Sky Fiber Unli Broadband + HD Cable TV Plan 199960MbpsUnlimitedPHP 1,999
Sky Fiber Unli Broadband + HD Cable TV Plan 2999120MbpsUnlimitedPHP 2,999

Read more:

5. DITO Telecommunity

Since DITO Internet Philippines is still new to the telco scene, it doesn’t offer any home broadband services just yet. However, DITO’s Chief Administrative Officer Adel Tamano said that the new internet provider in the Philippines may start offering broadband services in 2022.[6]

As of the moment, DITO offers high-speed internet (with speeds up to 27Mbps, according to some reviews) that can be only accessed through a SIM card. Each SIM card comes with 25GB of data (valid for 30 days) and other features, such as unlimited texts and free 300 minutes of calls to other mobile networks. Each SIM card costs PHP 199, and you can buy it at DITO’s official online stores on Lazada and Shopee.

It’s also important to note that the DITO SIM card is compatible with only certain smartphone brands and models. The company says that the list of compatible devices is not yet final since testing is continuous. Nevertheless, DITO encourages prospective users to get in touch with its customer service representatives to determine the compatibility of their devices with the SIM.

Related article: Who Will Challenge PLDT and Globe in the Telco Market?

Note: The prices and service inclusions of internet plans in this article are subject to change without prior notice. Other fees for pertinent services, such as installation, are not yet factored in. With that, we strongly advise that you get in touch with your chosen provider’s customer service team to get the exact price of the internet service you’re planning to get.

Final Thoughts

Having an internet connection may still sound like a privilege in our country, especially that Filipinos pay so much and receive so little. But in reality, a strong internet service is already a right, as it empowers people to be informed and enables them to earn income.

While the internet in the Philippines continues to lag behind in the region (and globally), new technologies are being developed to make sure that every Filipino stays connected. The arrival of the third telco player has surely given everyone hope. But until its broadband services are launched next year, let’s do our best to make do with what we have. One good sign to take notice of, though, is the fact that some existing internet providers are increasing customers’ bandwidths without charging extra.

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