The infographic from this story tells it all. The Philippines has the most pathetic Internet speeds and cost to consumers. There’s no real competition and choice. Now, one of our good Senators is trying to chase this down, hoping to find solutions for us, poor and paying customers.
As I write this, I’m enjoying Internet speeds of 45Mbps. This is according to a speed test that I conducted two nights ago. You may be wondering where in the world am I? I’m in a country that boasts of blazing Internet speeds available to consumers: South Korea.
I came across an article that cited studies that linked economic growth in countries to the availability of fast Internet services. South Korea falls into this category. A quick search on the Internet led me to this ITU white paper that attempts to establish the link between economic growth and the widespread availability and adoption of broadband technology. It’s a long study done in 2012. It’s a good read.
This got me thinking, and writing several observations that are based on years of writing about government policies on information and communications technology, and now being in the middle of all these development. So indulge me and read on. Note: All these are my own opinion and does not reflect views of any organization I work for or of which I represent.
1. Faster Internet speeds help generate more business. My theory of establishing link between the adoption and availability of fast Internet and economic growth is based on how businesses see this as an important aspect of doing business. As consumers demand more bandwidth-hungry services like streaming high-resolution video, Internet speeds are critical. Disruptive services like Netflix are just a start, and more will emerge and continue to evolve. And if this theory goes well, we should expect MORE enhanced services that rely heavily on digital services delivered through the cloud. Internet speeds available to consumers will be a critical factor that will push businesses and start-ups to consider to invest in digital services.
2. Efficient economies have digital backbones that rely on hyper-fast broadband infrastructure. This goes beyond the wired network. I’m talking about the digital backbone that connect us to the cloud of services. Broadband Internet is an important layer for the Internet of Things to happen. The intelligence of a system will NOT reside in devices, but in the cloud. Think Matrix, without the evil, alien-like machines chasing down humans.
3. Faster Internet will lead to the creation of more disruptive industries and new product categories. Have you heard of the phenomenon called “cord-cutting or cord-shaving?” These are terms that you will hear, as more Netflix-like services will start replacing or disrupting existing and dominant players in the video business. With innovations come new business categ0ries and opportunities for “Netflix-like” services to emerge.
4. Broadband Internet services will create new jobs. You don’t have to look any further: Silicon Valley is powered by fast Internet highways. This place has been creating new economies and new job categories. So why are we still wondering why places with poor Internet infrastructure are playing catch-up?
5. Broadband Internet is a utility, a basic human right. History indicates that regulators will face issues like Net Neutrality. This issue is, however, becoming murky as detractors are trying to muddle the discussion about its benefits. What you should know is that the cost of broadband Internet will go down. Market forces will dictate that. But there is also significant pressure from service providers to keep profits up, while balancing its operational expenses and margins. Regulators and policy-makers should have consumers top-of-mind, and they should serve them first and well. The reality, however, is that consumers are the last in discussions about delivering fast Internet. This is a topic that divides the industry, the policy-makers, and government. Currently, there is no clear winner. But there’s a clear loser: we THE consumers.
Going back to my little story about my brief stay in Korea for the past 4 days. What could take hours to do, it took less than 10 minutes. I tried for two-straight nights to send a 50MB, full-HD video that I took using my smartphone camera. While this may sound too trivial, this experience has a lot to do with the economy and the digital lifestyle that we now have.
Access to communications technology is another basic human right. Without it, economies would collapse. Faster, broadband infrastructures are highways that we need to allow us to discover new stuff. They provide us the means to learn new things, to understand and figure out solutions to the questions about our universe. It’s the very fabric that we require to test out scientific and economic question, and hopefully, come up with practical solutions.
The overwhelming Internet speed in my hotel room here in South Korea allowed me to send 2 full-HD videos in a few minutes, sparing me time to spend with friends, to walk around the beautiful city of Suwon and experience its culture–and food. That is priceless.
How I am going to miss my 45MBps Internet bandwidth tomorrow.