May 18, 2024


When Grade 1 pupils Liam and Alain were about to attend their online class from their house in Baguio on Monday, they found their Internet connectivity unavailable due to an error in the data center of their Internet provider. Prior to that, the two learners had skipped their online classes due to speed issues, despite their parents religiously paying a monthly bill of almost P1,500 for 25 Mpbs, supposedly a fast Internet speed in a third-world country.
Internet provider Converge ICT has posted on its social media account that the problem had been fixed in most parts of north and south Luzon, but the network outage lasted for another 48 hours.
Like Liam and Alain, the more than 48-hour network outage was a nightmare for thousands of other learners and people from all walks of life in Baguio and its environs who are working, studying, and attending conferences from home amid the pandemic due to issues in the data center of the broadband service providers. It also happened to subscribers of other Internet providers in the past.
Even learners using self-learning modules in their homes, including those in the rural areas, find the Internet useful, especially in their research work.
The inconveniences caused by network outages have disrupted work and study not only for local residents, but also for millions of other subscribers nationwide. The scenario is a recognition that stable and fast Internet connectivity is not a luxury, but has become a necessity from first to third-world countries like the Philippines.
The Covid-19 pandemic that has driven many personal, official, commercial, and social activities online made people regard Internet connectivity as an essential need in their daily survival under the new normal. Even for those below the poverty threshold. And while internet service may be too expensive in rural areas and low-income neighborhoods, many parents in a bid to help their children study under the new blended learning system are forced to subscribe with Internet providers even if the monthly bills could instead have been allotted for other important needs.
The frequent loss of Internet connectivity and speed issues are concerns that Internet providers must resolve to give justice to every household that pay for their monthly bills regardless of how poor the services extended to them are by these multi-billion companies.
For so many years now, Internet subscribers in the localities have complained of poor customer service accorded them, as it takes them days to restore Internet connection despite earning huge revenue from their ever-increasing subscribers.
This urgent concern needs intervention from our political leaders, particularly from our local legislators to enact a local policy wherein Internet subscribers are entitled to refund for every hour of not having connection due to issues on the system of their respective providers. This is not to mention the complaints of countless subscribers who do not enjoy the actual bandwidth of their subscription which they pay for.
We also call on a local policy for every Internet provider in the locality to maintain a 24/7 maintenance crew to fix damaged lines similar to the crew maintained by other public utility companies such as the Benguet Electric Cooperative, known for its efficiency even during calamities.
And with many businesses migrating to digital operations, service efficiency is the name of the game for Internet providers, which can be achieved with improved and stable infrastructures, new technologies, and upgrading of existing facilities to help improve the economy greatly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
We see no reason why Internet service in Baguio cannot be improved considering that we are witnessing the rise of the business process outsourcing sector in the Summer Capital, which also happens to be the educational center of the north.
As we transition to the new normal where Internet connectivity has become essential, providing stable service that is affordable to low-income Filipinos like the parents of Liam and Alain should also become the norm.