Senator Imee Marcos has proposed cheaper Internet access for low-income groups so that more Filipinos can benefit from working, learning, and doing business online.
“If lifeline rates are being given to water and electricity consumers, why can’t we give similar discounts for internet access?” Marcos said in a news statement.
The socialized pricing mechanism is a solution amid the slow expansion of free wifi access in poorer areas and can already be put in place by the government and telecommunications firms, according to Senate Bill 2102, named the “Public Telecommunications Policy Act of the Philippines.”
The Marcos bill prescribes a lifeline rate for broadband and data use based on consumption thresholds of not lower than one gigabyte (1GB) per month.
“Low-income end-users need more than just the occasional mobile promo, with Internet access becoming a necessity just like water and electricity. Work-from-home arrangements, online education, e-commerce and internet banking are here to stay,” the Senate economic affairs committee chairman said.
Although the Philippines ranked 48th overall out of 110 countries in the Digital Quality of Life Index 2021, its Internet affordability ranked 72nd—the lowest among the five criteria on which digital well-being was assessed by the Netherlands-based cybersecurity firm Surfshark.
In the other four criteria, the Philippines ranked 20th in internet quality, 30th in internet security, 63rd in e-infrastructure, and 67th in e-government.