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The Asia Foundation Releases Report on Emerging Internet Technologies and Policy in the Philippines

Manila, October 17, 2018 — The Asia Foundation and the Better Broadband Alliance released a new report, From Analog to Digital: Philippine Policy and Emerging Internet Technologies, in support of a more digital-friendly policy environment in the Philippines. In an increasingly digitizing world, the country’s existing policy framework has not changed much since 1995 and continues to be based primarily on analog-era and landline technology instead of digital technology. The report identifies the most promising technologies to improve Internet access, quality, and affordability in the Philippines; and includes recommendations for creating a policy and regulatory framework more hospitable to emerging technologies.

Internet is widely recognized as a key driver of economic growth and equal access to information, yet 45% of the Philippines’ 103 million remain unconnected to the internet. In the wealthier, more densely populated urban areas connectivity is relatively better, but a large portion of the Philippine poor live on islands across the archipelago of 7,107 islands – often with limited electricity. Fixed broadband service costs consumers 7.1% of gross national income per capita per month – well above the 5% affordability threshold recommended by the International Telecommunications Union.

The report explores emerging internet technologies beyond those traditionally used for Internet connectivity in the Philippines, especially those that may benefit the unserved and underserved areas. Comprehensive research was conducted on a wide range of emerging Internet technologies. Based on the assessment, three technologies seem appropriate and feasible for the Philippines: (1) Fiber to the Premises with Gigabit Passive Optical Network (2) Fixed mobile substitution with 5G, and (3) Low earth orbit satellite networks. The report seeks to initiate the discussion on possible technologies and does not intend to endorse any particular technology for adoption in the country.

The rise of emerging internet technologies—with the promise to bridge the digital divide—can provide the much-needed impetus for reforming the Philippines’ policy and regulatory environment to bring it to the digital age. However, government agencies, regulators, and Internet service providers interested in introducing new digital technologies are forced to operate in an analog-era policy environment.

The report examines six specific reforms to enable Internet service providers to deploy emerging technologies that can significantly improve access, quality, and cost of Philippine internet service. These are (1) reclassification of data service to distinguish them from basic telecommunications; (2) removal of the requirements to install landlines for entry into the telecommunications and broadband markets; (3) relaxation of restrictions on foreign ownership to encourage more investment and foster competition; (4) introduction of standards and harmonized rules for communications and broadband infrastructure; (5) adoption of spectrum management reforms; (6) enhancement of the regulatory environment.

Read the report here.

The Asia Foundation’s programs in the Philippines promote better governance to support economic growth, strengthen the rule of law, and foster peace and development in Mindanao. Building on its wide network of partners, the Foundation is helping government, local NGOs, and the private sector to strengthen democratic institutions and create sustainable economic growth.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our work across the region addresses five overarching goals—strengthen governance, empower women, expand economic opportunity, increase environmental resilience, and promote regional cooperation.

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Related locations: Philippines
Related programs: Good Governance, Technology & Development

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