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PHL digital quality of life worsens

THE Philippines’ ranking in index measuring digital wellbeing went down seven places amid lower scores in Internet connection affordability, quality, and stability, as well as cybersecurity.

The country ranked 55th out of 117 countries in the Digital Quality of Life Index 2022 by virtual private network service provider Surfshark from 48th last year. This year’s study includes seven countries more than the 2021 edition.

In Asia, the Philippines placed 14th out of 34 countries.

Surfshark said in a statement on Wednesday that the study covers 92% of the global population or 7.2 billion people and measures the digital quality of life based on Internet affordability and quality, e-infrastructure, e-security, and e-government.

It is based on the United Nations open-source information and data from the World Bank, Freedom House, and the International Communications Union, among others.

Out of the five categories, the Philippines performed the worst in internet affordability, ranking 98th globally, down 26 places from 72nd a year prior.

“Internet in the Philippines is not affordable compared to global standards,”  Surfshark said.

It said a 1 gigabyte (GB) mobile internet package costs 4 minutes and 51 seconds of work per month in the Philippines, 59 times more than the 5 seconds of work needed to buy a 1 GB package in Israel, which has the most affordable mobile Internet in the world, based on the index.

Still, mobile internet affordability in the Philippines improved from the previous year, with the work needed to afford the service dropping by 27 minutes and 3 seconds. The country placed 60th in terms of time to work to afford the cheapest mobile internet, up 44 places from 104th the prior year.

As for fixed broadband, Filipinos need to work around 11 hours and 5 minutes per month to afford the cheapest package available.

“To afford it, Filipinos have to work 34 times more than Israeli citizens, for whom the most affordable package costs only 19 minutes of work monthly,” Surfshark said.

Broadband internet also became less affordable in the Philippines since the previous year, it said, as people now have to work 6 hours 4 minutes more per month to afford the same service, ranking 103rd in the world, down 31 places from 72nd last year.

Surfshark said the global digital divide is growing bigger as internet connections have become less affordable.

“With the current inflation, the pressure on low-income households that need the internet has become even heavier,” it said. “Surfshark’s study also found that countries with the poorest internet connection have to work for it the longest.”

Meanwhile, the Philippines dropped 25 places to rank 45th for internet quality this year. While the average mobile Internet speed and stability improved, speed growth worsened from last year. As for broadband, average internet speed improved but stability and speed growth were worse.

“Regarding internet speed alone, Philippines’s fixed broadband internet ranks higher than mobile in the global ranking, operating at 75.1 Megabits per second or Mbps (55th globally). Meanwhile, the mobile internet comes 61st (38.7 Mbps),” Surfshark said.

“Since last year, mobile internet speed in the Philippines has improved by 33% (9.6 Mbps), and fixed broadband speed has grown by 52.2% (25.8 Mbps),” it added.

The company said internet quality in the Philippines is “comparatively mediocre”, with fixed broadband connections better than mobile globally.

In comparison, Singapore, which has the fastest internet in the world this year, has mobile speeds of up to 104 Mbps and fixed broadband speed of at most 261 Mbps.

Meanwhile, for electronic security, which measures readiness to counter cybercrimes and its commitment to protecting online privacy, the Philippines ranked 44th, down from 30th last year.

The country also dropped two places to rank 65th globally for electronic infrastructure, which measures the number of individuals using the internet and network readiness.

Lastly, for electronic government, which determines how advanced and digitized a country’s government services are, it rose five ranks to 62nd place.

“While countries with a strong digital quality of life tend to be those of advanced economies, our global study found that money doesn’t always buy digital happiness,” Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, head of PR at Surfshark, was quoted as saying.

“That is why, for the fourth year in a row, we continue analyzing the Digital Quality of Life to see how different nations keep up with providing the basic digital necessities for their citizens. Most importantly, our research seeks to show the full picture of the global digital divide that millions of people are suffering from,” she said. — A.N.O. Tan

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