Thursday, February 17, 2011

DigitalFilipino Talks Blog Contest: My View on Improving the Philippines Broadband Infrastructure

Improving the Philippines Broadband Infrastructure (Why is the Internet slow today?)

Today, February 17, 2011, DigitalFilipino Talks about Improving the Philippines Broadband Infrastructure and why our Internet is slow today. CEO of Kitskoo ( Mr. Tunde Fafunwa was interviewed for this topic. By the way, Kitskoo is a solutions provider (or consultancy firm) that helps clients (in this case internet providers) implement technology based business plans , such as developing strategies for speedier internet connections.

Improving the Philippines Broadband Infrastructure (Why is the Internet slow today?)
from Janette Toral on Vimeo.

This is a very interesting topic because a lot of subscribers from different service providers are complaining about their slow internet access. Sadly, I am also part of that crowd. :(

In this interview, Mr. Fafunwa, tells us that we do have a problem and the reasons why our internet is soooo slow today. According to him, our internet connection problems include 1) consistency and reliability and 2) internet speed.

He mentioned that the Philippines is being left behind by other developing countries when it comes to internet service. In a recent study where 165 countries were surveyed, he said the Philippines is ranked 135th. This is a rather big disappointment because as a developing nation, we need a fast and reliable connection specially when we deal with our business overseas. The Philippine economy is afloat mainly because of our Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) established here. Call centers and the I.T. sector are among those affected if ever the quality of our internet declines.

Steps to improve broadband infrastructure

Mr. Fafunwa mentioned that we are already feeling the effects of poor broadband infrastructure, and service providers must consider steps to improve it.

He mentioned that there are three steps necessary that will help alleviate the problem with our broadband infrastructure:

1) a local Internet exchange - a junction/connection where local traffic will pass through. To elaborate, Mr. Fafunwa said that an effective local Internet exchange is needed because most of the internet traffic will be handled here rather than sending the traffic abroad, and coming back here in 2 steps. This will greatly improve the speed of our connections and greatly reduce traffic congestion going abroad. Although there are some internet exchanges already set-up, not all the broadband providers are using them.

2) share infrastructure cost - setting up broadband infrastructure is costly, specially laying in of fiber optic cables. These fiber optic cables allow bigger bandwidth, or in laymans terms, a wider information highway for faster connections. And since doing this is so expensive, Mr. Fafunwa suggests that local broadband providers help each other other out by sharing what connections they have already set up.

The problem right now is that rival internet providers are continuously investing large amounts of capital to set up fiber optic cables their competitors had already done. In effect, what they are doing is redundant. If they just shared connections, internet costs and charges can be brought down.

3) sharing co-location towers - Just like sharing infrastructure costs, co-location towers can also be shared so that internet providers will not have to put up a separate tower for their wireless connections. This has been an accepted practice abroad. There are even 3rd party companies abroad who rent out towers they put up to internet providers so that they no longer need to spend on putting up their own.

The need for better broadband internet connection

As of today, we rely heavily on the internet specially for economic growth from our BPO's transactions overseas. And with that, Mr. Fafunwa sees that more and more Filipinos will use the internet for everyday transactions, like accounting, medicine and more. If we do not address this poor internet infrastructure, we will suffer the consequences. The time to address this issue is now, specially when we already feel the effects of poor connectivity.

On Bandwith Capping

Ma'am Janette brought out the issue on bandwidth capping, or having a limit in transferring of a specified amount of data over a period of time. Internet providers do this so that the overall quality of internet service will not be sacrificed.

Mr. Fafunwa concurs that long before, internet users were conditioned that the internet is open source and unlimited, but in reality, even the internet has its limits. As a consumer, we want the following: 1) open or unlimited service 2) big bandwidth or fast internet and 3) the best or lowest price possible. Even if we want all three, we can't. We can only have 2 of them. He cites the example that perhaps you may want to pay a premium (a high price) so that you can have 1) and 2).

My Views on the Philippines Broadband Infrastructure

As mentioned in the interview, what Mr. Fafunwa says is true that we definitely are feeling the effects of poor broadband infrastructure.

Here is my experience. I wanted to submit a photo for an online contest once, but during that time, internet connections were so poor. So, in the middle of uploading my photo entry, which is just around 2MB in size, my connection timed out. Because of that, the whole upload process was aborted. I had to upload the photo again but somewhere in the middle of the process, the upload failed again. In the end I was not able to submit any entry since I attempted my upload near the closing deadline.

My brother also has a similar experience. He was talking to his boss from abroad through the internet. As his boss was giving him specific instructions on what to do with his project, our internet connection timed out. He was so frustrated with what happened, he wished we did not subscribe to our internet provider.

More feedback from the Facebook 'fans'

It seems that what my brother and I experienced is not so isolated. When you try to view some feedback from customers of the major internet providers like PLDT, Smart, or Sky Broadband on Facebook, from time-to-time you get to read their angry reactions - that their internet service so slow, or why nobody is addressing their issues. Sometimes people complain that after the technical crew 'fixed' their internet connection, it bogs down again. Funny, but their experience also happened to us. We did call on technical support but somehow, the crew really can't troubleshoot the problem, which only shows up from time-to-time.

Internet providers' cooperation

Hopefully internet providers might consider what Mr. Fafunwa suggests. After all, the internet is one of the most important tools we have today. Without it, how can the BPO or the I.T. sector prosper? How can our country prosper? We are slowly being left behind by other developing countries like India, Thailand and Indonesia in terms of economic growth. The sad part is that we have a lot of talented Pinoys here who need not go abroad to earn the dollars that can strengthen our economy. If our broadband connectivity suffers some more in the future, BPO companies might migrate to internet reliable countries. People will lose jobs and our economy will take a downhill turn.

All it takes is a little cooperation on the part of our internet providers. They have already been investing a lot just to beat their counterparts in their own game. If they can just share what they have already put up, and plan their strategy to develop broadband communications together as one, everyone can harness the power of the internet - one that is fast, reliable and cheap.

This is my entry to's Talks Blog Contest. Be part of the conversation. Visit the contest page to join. Feel free to comment on my blog post about My View on Improving the Philippines Broadband Infrastructure.

blog comments powered by Disqus