This Is How Long the Average Filipino Needs to Work to Afford Internet

IMAGE Unsplash / Andrew Leu

At this point, internet access has long moved past privilege and is now into essential territory. Millions rely on it for work and productivity, especially during the pandemic. But just how pricey is internet in the Philippines in relation to how much the average Filipino is earning? 

VPN provider Surfshark’s Digital Quality of Life Index provides some clues. According to the study, as many as 75 percent of the world’s countries have to work more than the global average in order to afford internet. In addition, less affordable internet is often slower and less stable. 

The top five most affordable internet in the world can be found in Israel, Canada, Azerbaijan, Poland, and Iran.

On the other end of the list, the least affordable internet in the world is in Albania (85th), Costa Rica (84th), Guatemala (83rd), the Philippines (82nd), and Peru (81st).

Photo by Statista.

Working to afford internet

Based on the global average, a person needs to work a total of three hours and 48 minutes a month in order to afford the cheapest broadband package available in the market. And in many cases, the world’s slowest internet is also the most expensive. 

In Nigeria, for example, the average resident would need to work 33 hours and 42 minutes to pay for broadband internet, which is the most hours in the world. In Africa, the average broadband speed is 4.85 Mbps. Compare that to the global average, which is 15.94 Mbps.

Photo by Screenshot / Surfshark DQL Index.
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As for the Philippines, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we have the least affordable internet in Asia. According to the study, the average Filipino would need to work a total of seven hours and 19 minutes in order to afford to pay the cheapest available broadband internet connection. Only six other countries rank lower (meaning residents need to work longer hours to afford the internet in their countries): Peru, Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Honduras, and Nigeria.

For comparison, Canadians need only work seven minutes, Iran 10 minutes, Israelis 23 minutes, Japan 38 minutes, and China 40 minutes.

Mobile internet

Mobile internet is a slightly different ball game. Globally, mobile internet is nearly 23 times more affordable than broadband, according to the study. And the average time of work to afford the cheapest 1GB of mobile internet is about 10 minutes.

“However, this duration varies by location,” the study says. “(i)n Israel, it is 17 seconds; in Azerbaijan 19 seconds; in Poland, 24 seconds; and in Greece, it is 43 minutes; in Panama, it is 44 minutes; and in Honduras, 1 hour and 3 minutes.”


Where is the Philippines in this ranking? To afford mobile internet here, an average Filipino would need to work about 32 minutes, which is right around the middle of the rankings.

The Philippines didn’t fare well in internet quality (which combines broadband and mobile internet) either. While Singapore tops the ranking for fastest and most stable internet in the world (followed by Sweden, Netherlands, Norway and Denmark), the Philippines ranks ninth in the slowest and least stable internet globally, just behind Sri Lanka. Countries that ranked lower than us (even slower and less stable internet) are Algeria, Peru, Nigeria, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Indonesia.

Photo by Screenshot / Surfshark DQL.

Why do we have poor internet

There’s a reason, though, for the Philippines’ dismal performance in internet quality and affordability. According to Statista, which quoted a report by the Asia Foundation, “island nations have to shoulder more costs for internet infrastructure, leading to poorer connections in some places.

Photo by Statista.

“In the Philippines, this first hurdle to quality internet access is met with more problems caused by bureaucratic challenges, according to the foundation,” it added. “Remote places, especially islands, are often connected to the internet via satellites and not cables, which inherently reduces speed and reliability, for example because of weather. While the Philippines ranked towards the bottom in mobile internet speed, the country fared somewhat better for the speed of broadband. In terms of the stability of these networks, the country ranked in the bottom three, explaining the poor final score on the index.”

You can find Surfshark’s full DQL Index study here.

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About The Author
Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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