Former Sen. Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. on Monday urged the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to conduct an audit on the performance of all telecommunications firms to assess the quality of internet service in the country.
Marcos noted the disparity between the country's touted gains in internet speed and the taxing real-world experience of teachers and students using the internet for their online classes.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has said recently that in July, the average download speeds for fixed broadband reached 71.17 megabits per second (Mbps) versus 66.55 Mbps the previous month. Meanwhile, mobile internet download speeds saw a slight uptick from 32.84 Mbps in June to 33.69 Mbps in July.
The DICT added these improvements put the country at 63rd out of 180 countries for fixed broadband and 72nd out of 139 countries for mobile internet.
"With online classes set to start in a few days, the NTC should conduct a thorough performance audit on our Telcos so we can avoid a repeat of instances where teacher and students had to risk life and limb just to get better internet connection,” Marcos said.
"While it is good to see our internet download speeds improve, the experience of teachers and students show it does not necessarily translate to better overall user experience. It is high time for Telcos to focus on improving paramaters such as coverage and stability of connection which impacts day to day use. " Marcos added.
According to a recent study by the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP), internet speeds and internet connectivity are the top challenges facing teachers using distance learning.
The study also shows more than 90 percent of teachers from elementary, junior high school and senior high school are reportedly struggling with internet connectivity in several regions especially in rural areas.
At least 71.87 percent of the 28,859 DepEd teachers surveyed said they use mobile data to connect to the internet, 32.50 percent use fiber internet, 10.38 percent use DSL and 20.61 percent use portable Wifi devices.
Even DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones admitted during a press conference last August 17 that stable internet connectivity is a continuing challenge for teachers nationwide.
Briones said that the DepEd is shifting to technology, and for it to be successful, it will need connectivity which is "very, very limited."
"It is imperative for the NTC to push through with this performance audit to verify whether the objectives of the rollout plans submitted by these telcos are being achieved. A large number of teachers use mobile internet for their distance learning classes which makes it a top priority for improvement, " Marcos said.
He added: “This pandemic has highlighted the importance of having a strong digital infrastructure and I reiterate my appeal to the government to include projects in the Build, Build, Build program that will ensure our people has access to affordable and reliable internet."