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Rural Internet penetration still lagging — SWS

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INTERNET use in the Philippines remains highest in major cities, Social Weather Stations (SWS) said after its latest survey, setting a baseline profile for adoption of the technology prior to the entry of a new competitor in the telecommunications industry.

The survey, conducted in the third quarter, found that 54% of respondents lived in urban areas, up from 53% in the previous quarter. This included a 64% rate for Metro Manila residents. Rural penetration was 31%, up from 28% a quarter earlier.

The urban-rural split in Internet usage runs counter to the actual population split, which according to Trading Economics was just under 56% rural in 2016.

Trading Economics also estimated the Internet penetration rate nationwide at 55.5% in 2016.

The survey, conducted on Sept. 15-23, suggested however a lower overall penetration rate. SWS said 41% of its respondents use the Internet, up from 40% in the three months to June.

Out of the 1,500 adults surveyed, Internet usage was higher among women at 42%, down from 45% a quarter earlier. Meanwhile, some 40% of male respondents said they were Internet users, up from 36% in the June quarter.

SWS found that Internet usage is highest within the 18-24 age group, where penetration is 81%, followed by 25-34 at 65%, and 35-44 at 44%.

SWS also reported that Internet use was highest among university graduates at 73%, down from 78% three months earlier. The usage rate for those with a high school education was at 56%, up from 55% a quarter earlier. The usage rate for those with elementary-level educations was 26%, from 21% in the previous quarter.

The usage rate for the ABC income class was 55%, followed by class D at 43% and class E at 28%.

In balance Luzon — the geographical category that excludes Metro Manila — the usage rate was a record 47% in the three months to September from 42% in the three months to June.

However, usage rates in the Visayas declined sharply between quarters to 28% from a record 37% previously. Mindanao usage rates declined to 27% in the September quarter from 29% three months earlier.

The survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews with respondents ages 18 years old and above nationwide. SWS used sampling error margins of plus or minus 3% for national percentages, plus or minus 4% for Balance Luzon, and plus or minus 6% for Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras