The Philippines has vaulted by three notches to No. 12 worldwide in terms of having the highest number of Internet users.
Citing Internet World Stats’ latest ranking of the top 20 countries with the highest number of Internet users, Makati City Rep. Luis Campos Jr. said some 67 million Filipinos are now browsing the web, translating to a penetration rate of 63% of the population.
The Philippines moved up from No. 15 a year ago, when it had some 54 million users, or a penetration rate of 52% of the population, according to Campos.
Campos has been urging Congress to pass House Bill 5337, which seeks to categorize broadband or high-speed Internet access as a “basic telecommunications service” subject to direct state regulatory supervision.
“We have to pigeon-hole broadband as a basic service to assure Filipinos superior Internet services and faster connection speeds countrywide,” Campos, a deputy minority leader, said.
Chinese tech magnate Jack Ma had said in a recent visit he was not happy about the Philippines’ Internet connection speed, which has been rated the slowest in Asia Pacific by Akamai Technologies Inc.’s State of the Internet Report.
“I tried to test the speed of Philippine (internet), it’s not good,” Ma said, drawing cheers from his audience at a forum in Manila.
Voice call is the only basic service within the jurisdiction and regulatory powers of the government under the Philippines’ 23-year-old Public Telecommunications Policy Law.
Broadband and other forms of telecommunications that emerged after the law’s passage in 1995 are “value-added services” beyond the reach of state regulators when it comes to mandating minimum standards and improvements.
But under Campos’ bill, once broadband is tagged a basic service, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) would be empowered to compel suppliers to upgrade their networks so they can deliver rising connection speeds within fixed deadlines.
Otherwise, they would face harsh regulatory penalties, including hefty administrative fines for every instance of non-compliance.
The bill also grants the NTC and its officers immunity from lawsuits with respect to any directives they may issue to ensure the performance of time-bound Internet service enhancements.
“We have to give the NTC the muscle to effectively protect and advance the rights and welfare of Internet users,” Campos said.
According to Internet World Stats, the 11 countries with the highest number of Internet users are China, with 772 million; India, 462 million; the United States, 312 million; Brazil, 149 million; Indonesia, 143 million; Japan, 118 million; Russia, 109 million; Nigeria, 98 million; Mexico, 85 million; Bangladesh, 80 million; and Germany, 79 million.
Behind the Philippines, the others in the top 20 are Vietnam (64 million), the United Kingdom (63 million), France (60 million), Thailand (57 million), Iran (56.7 million), Turkey (56 million), Italy (54 million), and Egypt (48 million).
Internet World Stats based its data on country reports from the International Telecommunications Union and Facebook Inc.