Expensive, slow internet pulls down Philippine digital ranking

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THE Philippines ranked 66th out of 85 countries in the 2020 Digital Quality of Life Index, saddled with issues like expensive, low-quality internet and the need to upgrade its electronic infrastructure.

The Philippines’ strongest performance was in e-governance, ranking 36th, outperforming Vietnam (58th), Thailand (64th) and Indonesia (74th).

The Digital Quality of Life Index 2020 is the second study by Surfshark Ltd. — an information technology firm — after launching it in 2019. The first study covered 65 countries, in which the Philippines ranked 51st. It assessed and compared the countries’ digital experience in terms of entertainment content availability, internet speed, data protection, cybersecurity, and internet affordability.

The latest study covers 85 countries, focusing on five pillars: internet affordability, internet quality, electronic infrastructure, electronic security, and electronic government.

In terms of internet affordability and internet quality, the Philippines ranked 79th and 84th, respectively.

The Philippines ranked 67th in electronic infrastructure, which was measured according to the adoption of information and communications technology and the number of individual internet users per 100 inhabitants.

The report said the country ranked 46th in the area of electronic security, which involves both cybersecurity and data protection laws.

The countries with the highest digital quality of life are Denmark, Sweden, Canada, France, Norway, Netherlands, the UK, Israel, Japan, and Poland.

Israel offers the most affordable internet, while Singapore ranked first in terms of internet quality and e-governance.

The United Arab Emirates ranked first in terms of electronic infrastructure, while the UK had the highest rating in the area of electronic security.

“E-security, e-infrastructure, and e-government have a more significant correlation with the digital quality of life than gross domestic product per capita. This proves the potential to level up the digital wellbeing with lower resources and more focused strategic planning,” it said.

It said the affordability of the internet has a “notably lower correlation” with the digital quality of life than the other pillars.

“For instance, the internet is less affordable in some Southern or Eastern European countries, but people there still enjoy higher than average digital quality of life. Interestingly, the affordability does not depend neither on the quality of the connectivity, nor the level of e-infrastructure development,” it said.

Philippine ICT industry expert Eliseo M. Rio, Jr., former undersecretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), said the results for the Philippines were expected.

“I think the report is accurate. We really have to improve our telecommunications infrastructure to rank higher,” he told BusinessWorld in a phone message.

As for the gap between e-governance and digital quality of life rankings, he said: “DICT was able to put all government offices on-line for basic government services. The private sector also did the same. But citizen’s access to on-line services from both government and private agencies to improve their digital quality of life is limited because of lack of infrastructure.” — Arjay L. Balinbin

PHL ranks 66th (out of 85) countries in terms of ‘digital quality of life’

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