Philippines needs more investments to boost digital infra

Philippines needs more investments 
to boost digital infra
File photo

A TOP official leading the Private Sector Advisory Council – Digital Infrastructure Sector (PSAC-Digital) is calling for more sustainable investments to boost the country’s digital infrastructure.

The Philippines continues to rate below the global average, lagging behind its neighbors in Southeast Asia despite improving in the latest ICT Development Index of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The 2024 edition of the index, released by the ITU, a specialized agency of the United Nations, scored the Philippines 74.4, marking a 14 percent improvement from last year.

However, this score is still below the global average of 74.8 and significantly behind Southeast Asian neighbors such as Singapore, which scored 97.8, Malaysia with 95, and Thailand at 91.0.

The Philippines’ score places it among the lowest five in the region, ahead of only Cambodia (72.6), Laos (65.3), Myanmar (63.8) and Timor-Leste (39.2).

“We are optimistic that we can score even higher in the global ICT Development Index. This should serve as an impetus for all stakeholders including industry players and the government to work more closely to address persistent gaps in our connectivity infrastructure,” said Ernest Cu, Globe president and chief executive officer, who heads PSAC’s Connectivity Plan Task Force (CPTF).

“The private sector has poured several billions in resources for ICT development. We cannot do it alone. There are barriers that can only be addressed through strong collaboration among the industry, government and other stakeholders,” said Cu.

P240B investments

Cu reiterated that the country needs more substantial investments in digital infrastructure. The private sector has invested a combined P640 billion in just three years, from 2021 to 2023, to upgrade the quality of the country’s connectivity infrastructure.

In contrast, the Department of Information and Communications Technology invested only P7.6 billion in internet infrastructure from 2018 to 2024.

PSAC, a Malacañang-initiated body that brings together industry players, has called on the government to allocate at least P240 billion to improve internet infrastructure and work with the private sector to build 35,000 new cell sites across the country.

Moreover, Cu reiterated the call for policy reform to allow connectivity to flourish.

These include the provision of space for telco infrastructure in housing developments and the removal of lease fees for telco infrastructure in buildings and developments through amendments to the outdated National Building Code (1977). Bills seeking this reform are still pending in Congress. / KOC

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