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Malacañang press briefing on telcos interrupted by connectivity issues

By PhilSTAR L!fe Published Jan 21, 2021 6:18 am

The poor state of the Philippines’ internet connectivity seeped through Malacañang during a press briefing that was set to discuss the National Telecommunications Commission report on the services of telcos in the country.

The online press briefing Thursday afternoon, presided by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, was momentarily interrupted as participants started to get disconnected from the briefing while in the middle of the Q&A portion, including Communications Undersecretary Rocky Ignacio, who read out the questions from the media, and a reporter participating in the Q&A.

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Undersecretary Manny Caintic was also disconnected due to poor internet connectivity.

Since the start of the pandemic, participants plug into the briefing via a web-based conferencing tool.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque with DICT Undersecretary Manny Caintic during the online press briefing Thursday. Screenshot from PCOO

In the middle of the interruption, which lingered for at least two minutes, Roque quipped that he would inform President Duterte that on the day they were supposed to discuss a report on the telcos, there was an internet connectivity interruption.

Roque, after the connection was restored, told Caintic, “Usec, ito po, na-experience natin first-hand ang problema sa connection. Ano ba talaga and solusyon dito?”

To which Caintic replied, “More towers, more fiber cables, and better customer service.”

During his fifth State of the Nation Address in July 2020, President Duterte told telcos to improve their services before December or risk expropriation or shutdown. Duterte demanded for better internet connectivity as the country was in the midst of strict community quarantines that called for online services.

Roque said in the briefing that from July to December 2020, the fixed download speed in the country increased by 25.4 percent, while mobile download speed saw a 32.7 percent increase.

Roque also added that the Philippines’ average download speed in fixed broadband ranked 29th out of 50 countries in Asia.

According to Speedtest by Ookla’s November 2020 data of fixed broadband internet connections speed, the Philippines ranked 110 with an average of 18.49 mbps for download, considerably much slower (and expensive according to Digital Quality of Life Index of 2020) compared to the country’s Southeast Asian neighbors like Singapore at No. 1 (241.10 mbps), Thailand at No. 3 (213.14 mbps), Malaysia at No. 43 (91.40 mbps) and Vietnam at No. 59 (60. 81 mbps).