History of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the Philippines
The Philippines connected to the internet in 1994 via the Philippine Internet Foundation (PHNet), the first internet service provider in the country. Penetration increased slowly until 2005, when Executive Order 109 was enacted calling for the expansion of telecommunication services to underserved areas, which in turn promoted competition in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. Internet use further accelerated after 2008 with the entry of a number of industry players, although the use of mobile phones has remained more widespread. Penetration of such technologies is higher in urban areas where middle- to upper-income classes are concentrated. People in the Philippines enjoy nearly unrestricted access to the internet and other ICTs. To date, the government has steered clear of blocking access to any type of online content. Currently weak regulations, however, have been at the center of heated debates among citizens and lawmakers, some of whom argue that new threats to the safety of online users call for stricter laws pertaining to child pornography, gambling, and cybercrime. Such proposals have, in turn, raised concerns that the government is seeking to institute filtering without blatantly violating the freedom of expression and speech, and when the filtering infrastructure is in place, it could be potentially used for political and social censorship as well.
According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), internet penetration in the Philippines stood at 29 percent as of 2011, up from under 6 percent in 2006. Nevertheless, usage is mainly limited to the national capital region and other urban areas, and it remains largely absent among the lower-income population, most of whom live in rural areas. An increasing number of users are now accessing the internet from home and workplace, although cybercafés remain popular among those without a personal computer. In contrast, there were over 87 million mobile phone subscribers in 2011, a penetration rate of 92 percent. Subscriptions to fixed telephone lines lag far behind with approximately 3.5 million.Mobile phone subscriptions increased significantly in recent years, and the SMS application has dominated the market for 2G cell phones since the mid-2000s. Steep broadband internet subscription fees have stood in the way of a higher penetration rate in a country where 45 percent of the population lives on US$2 a day. The average monthly broadband subscription is between US$7 to US$19, and the penetration of fixed broadband subscriptions stood at only 1.9 percent in 2011. Internet cafes charge from US$0.30 to $0.50 per hour. The national government acknowledged many weaknesses in the development of ICT infrastructure in the Philippine Digital Strategy for 2011 to 2016, a roadmap for ICTs in the country. Among the weaknesses are limited market competition, poorly dispersed broadband services, lack of ICT training and skills among government leaders, and lack of transparency in the government. The government does not place any restrictions on internet connectivity, and a wide range of Web 2.0 applications are available in the country. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and international blog-hosting services are freely available, and penetration rates of these platforms are among the highest in the region. However, a significant number of users still rely on dial-up connections as broadband adoption in the country remains slow due to constraints such as access to frequencies, quality of service, and universal access. The opposition of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT)/Smart to the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) move to reduce interconnection prices has also slowed down broadband services.[ Latest government statistics reported 241 registered internet service providers (ISPs) as of 2009. The slow growth of the broadband industry is mainly due...
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