Poe on solving PH's Internet woes: Open telecom market to foreign investors

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Presidential candidate Grace Poe

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Internet connectivity is one of the biggest issues in the Philippines.

Among 22 countries in the Asia, the Philippines has the second slowest download speed, next to Afghanistan, according to a 2015 study by Internet performance data provider Ookla.

The Philippines has an average speed of 3.64 megabits per second (mbps), a far cry from the average broadband speed of 23.3 mbps in the whole world.

The Internet service here is also the most expensive (ranking 61st) at an average value of $18.19 per mbps, which exceeds the average global cost of $5.21.

And most netizens, especially the youth, are looking for someone to vote for in the upcoming May 9 elections who can potentially solve the Philippines' Internet woes.

Presidential candidate Grace Poe is aware of this problem.

"I think Internet and Internet speed are very, very basic concerns now. It is not just a value-added service, we are entitled to have it. Why? Even the United Nations declare access to the Internet service a human right, and why not? This is how we are able to get information," Poe said during the second CNN Philippines Town Hall on Thursday (January 28) at the San Beda College Abbot Lopez Hall.

"In our country, tignan mo palagi tayo ang pinakamabilis magpadala ng tweet, nagte-trending pa ang mga Pilipino sa bagal ng Internet speed natin ganyan na tayo kabilis. Can you imagine kung hindi tayo second to the slowest at top tayo? Talo natin lahat."

[Translation: In our country, we are always quick in sending tweets, Filipinos even trend (on Twitter) despite the slow Internet speed. Can you imagine if we weren't second to the slowest (in Internet speed) and we were first? We would beat other countries.]

According to agency We Are Social, there are 44 million users who are active on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, among others, as of March 2015.

"Kahit kayo ay estudyante at gumagawa kayo ng homework ninyo, nagdodownload kayo mas mabilis, matatapos niyo mga assignment niyo," she continued.

[Translation: For students, when you do your homework, you'd be able to download faster and finish your assignments sooner.]

"Kung kayo naman ay negosyante, kahit kayo ay nasa probinsya, pwede kayo makipagpaligsahan sa kahit sino na nasa city center o sa ibang bansa."

[Translation: If you are entrepreneurs and you are in the province, you could compete with people in the city or abroad.]

Related: Slow PH Internet hurts businesses

The solution

For consumers to enjoy fast and hassle-free Internet services, Poe suggested that the country open the telecommunications market to foreign investors as well.

"Hindi pwede kasi na may monopoliya ang pag mamamay-ari. Pero importante talaga na buksan natin ang ating ekonomiya para kung sino ang gustong mamuhunan sa ating bansa ay mamumuhunan," she said.

[Translation: There can't be a monopoly. It's important that we open our economy so that whoever wants to invest in our country can invest.]

"Kung bubuksan natin ang ating ekonomiya at mas maraming mamuhunan, maguunahan sila to get your subscription kaya pababaan ng presyo, mas maganda ang serbisyo."

[Translation: If we open our economy and more investors come in, they will compete for your subscription which will lead to cheaper prices and better service.]

Poe added that she and Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero, who was also present at the Town Hall, are pushing for free Internet and Wi-Fi access in state universities and colleges and certain school zones.

Having a variety of telecom companies offering Internet access will also help solve the problem of limiting the data caps, Poe said.

"We need competition. We don't need anybody dictating to us what the ceiling should be."

Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero on social media campaigning: 'We intend to be there more than on free TV.'

Campaigning on social media?

Since there exists a large chunk of Filipinos who are active on social media, how would Poe and Escudero use the digital platform during the campaign period?

In an earlier interview with CNN Philippines, Escudero said they have plans to invest in social media.

"We intend to be there (social media) more than on free TV. We intend to have footprints there more than on traditional media simply because it's still cheaper than traditional media."

Watch: Experts weigh in on digital campaigning