The Philippines Is One of the Most 'Internet Poor' Countries in the World

Our internet speed might be improving, but access is still a problem. 

Fiber internet plans might be the norm among families in and around Metro Manila, but the same can’t be said for Filipinos who live in isolated rural areas. While internet speed has improved in the Philippines, the matter of download speed doesn’t really matter to the millions who still have a hard time affording basic internet access. 

According to a report from the Internet Poverty Index by the World Data Lab, over 58 million Filipinos are “internet poor” as they are unable to afford a minimum package of mobile internet. The World Data Lab determines “internet poverty” based on “affordability, where up to 10 percent of total individual spending is assumed; quantity, where 1GB per month is assumed; quality, where 10Mbps download speed is assumed.” 

They then ranked 169 countries based on those benchmarks and found that the Philippines has the seventh-highest population of “internet poor” individuals. The most “internet poor” countries were Nigeria, India, China, Congo, Brazil, and Pakistan. But when ranked in terms of internet poverty as a percentage of the population, the Philippines performed slightly better at 38th place.

While there are still many Filipino with limited access to quality internet, they account for only 51.6 percent of the population, which is still better than countries like inflation-stricken Venezuela, where 92 percent of the population is internet poor. Still, the Philippines is the lowest ranking Southeast Asian country in the World Data Lab’s latest report. 

By now, internet access is seen as a basic necessity. The latest internet user penetration report from Statista estimates that 75 percent of the population in the Philippines is using the internet in 2022, but this only counts Filipinos connecting to the internet. It doesn’t consider whether their internet service provides 1GB of data per month or can download 10Mbps—all at an affordable rate. 

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The government and private telcos have helped improve the state of the internet in the Philippines, but one problem remains: providing internet access to remote areas and poor communities. Clearly, there’s still much to be done to provide affordable and quality internet access to all Filipinos, regardless of location and social class. 

Statistic: Internet user penetration in the Philippines from 2017 to 2020, with forecasts until 2026 | Statista
Find more statistics at  Statista

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Anri Ichimura
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