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Filipinos’ reliance on internet at an all-time high

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By Coleen Magahis and James Santua

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in lockdown after lockdown since 2020, disrupting the way people live their lives.

The Philippines started enforcing indoor directives in March of 2020 in an attempt to curb the COVID-19 transmission in the country, resulting in the increase of Filipinos’ reliance on internet connection for information.

According to the National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Household Survey performed by the Philippine Statistical Research and Training Institute (PSRTI) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in October 2020, 17.7% of all residences in the country have Internet access.

Smartphone shipments increased by 26.8% to 4.2 million devices between January to March, the International Data Corporation  stated.

The results indicated that smartphone use is increasing, with telecom companies PLDT and Globe reporting higher mobile internet traffic during this period.

“Despite the economy contracting in 2021Q1, the smartphone market continued to thrive, indicating a growth in demand for devices during the pandemic. Lockdown restrictions softened across the country for most of the first quarter and vaccinations started rolling out in March,” said the Client Devices Market Analyst of IDC Philippines, Angela Jenny Medez.

In July 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte issued a decree emphasizing the importance of expediting LGU permissions so that more cellular towers may be installed to increase communication and connection in the Philippines.

According to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), 2,789 Local Government Unit (LGU) licences were granted to telcos between January and April 2021, a 294 percent growth over the average of 1,636 LGU permits given in 2019.

From 2020 to 2021, the population of internet users in the Philippines rose by 4.2 million, +6.1%. In January 2021, 67 percent of Filipinos had internet access. While the number of mobile connections, or cellular data, in the country declined by 15 million, -8.9%, respectively from January 2020 to January 2021.

In the recent Ookla Speedtest Global Index report, the Philippines’ mobile internet speed has improved to 84th out of 177 countries, up from 86th in January.

Ookla Speedtest Global Index

The most recent Digital 2021 report in February showed that the Philippines spends an average of 10 hours and 56 minutes a day on the internet through any device, and out of that nearly 11 hours, five hours and 45 minutes of it was spent by ages 16 to 64 using mobile internet.

Furthermore, the 2021 Digital report statistics show that there are 73.91 million internet users in the Philippines, with 96.5 percent, or approximately 71.3 million, accessing the internet via mobile devices.

In the 2020 Digital report, it showed that out of the 73 million internet users, 70.45 million of them are accessing the internet on mobile with a daily average of 9 hours and 45 minutes of internet usage.

Mobile access to the internet in the Philippines was at approximately 66 percent in 2019. By 2025, it is projected that those who will access the internet through their phones will grow at nearly 80 percent, leading to an increase of mobile consumers, Statista stated.

Numerically, 70.7 million individuals used their mobile phones to access the internet in 2019. It is expected that the number of mobile internet users in the nation would reach about 90 million by 2025.

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