Philippine Internet Industry Threatened By Metering
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The Philippine Internet community recently held a gathering in Manila to celebrate the fifth year of the country's Web industry, but the focus of the event was the threat that telecom metering posed for the industry.
"The fact that we are able to celebrate five years of Philippine Internet is significant, mainly because of the dangers and challenges facing the Internet today," said Manny Amador, president of Philippine League of Democratic Telecommunications.
"The greatest threat to the continued growth of the Internet in the Philippines is the policies of the local telephone companies and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC)," said Amador.
Globally, the Internet has been shown to be price sensitive, community leaders contend. Where the cost of access is high, growth has been slow.
"There have been a lot of factors hampering the growth of the Internet in particular, and communications in general. Thankfully, we've survived most of them. However, the past few months, some news have been coming about threatening the very technology which we have all been a part of," said Franchette Soriano, project manager of the anniversary event.
"As you get more people on the net, we should have economies of scale...not to mention that technology has improved a lot that should bring costs down," said Kelsey Hartigan Go, AVP-Information Technology-SM Holdings, recipient of Rocket Scientist Award,"but why are telecommunication costs not going down as it should have - compared with other countries, and therefore why is Internet cost going up?"
"In the Philippines, bad times have forced people to cut back, and we cannot expect the Internet community to grow if the telcos keep on increasing the cost of access," said Amador. "The government should work to lower the cost of telephone service and other costs to ISPs - such as leased lines - so as to stimulate growth."
Many community leaders are confident that the industry will become an influential force when the number of users reaches a critical mass granting the industry economic and political clout.
Amador commented that when this happens Philippine banks will be more open to e-commerce and NTC will take the industry more seriously.
Currently, there are nearly 350,000 Internet users in the Philippines.