SINGAPORE – According to the results of an analysis by ASEAN DNA, only two ASEAN member states, Singapore and Thailand, currently have internet speeds above the global average of 17.7 Mbps. Based on data from Net Index, the analysis sets Southeast Asia’s average internet speed at only 12.4 Mbps – well below the global average.
Within ASEAN, Singapore and Thailand currently have the fastest average internet speeds at 61 Mbps and 17.7 Mbps, respectively, while the Philippines, Laos and Indonesia have the slowest at 3.6, 4.0 and 4.1 Mbps.
Internationally, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea have the fastest average internet speeds according to the most recent data available from Net Index.
After Net Index released its latest global internet speed rankings showing the Philippines as having the slowest internet speed in Southeast Asia, netizens in the country were fast to condemn what some described as the “control and monopoly” of the country’s telecommunications industry.
Philippines Senator Bam Aquino responded to the outrage by calling for an investigation to find out why the Philippines’ internet lagged behind faster and cheaper internet in other ASEAN countries.
“There are constant complaints about the provider’s failure to deliver on its promised connection speed, which usually leads to slow internet links. Do we always have to pay a steep price for [a] slow and sometimes unreliable internet connection? [The National Telecommunications Commission] should provide a logical and clear explanation on this. This is expensive compared to Singapore and Thailand where you can find some of the fastest internet connections in the world,” Senator Aquino said.
According to Aquino, local consumers in the Philippines spend an average of US$22 a month for internet service as fast as two Mbps, and close to US$50 per month for up to five Mbps.
In contrast, Singapore’s largest telecommunications company offers 15 Mbps internet for only US$30 a month and internet users in Thailand pay around US$25 per month for 12 Mbps speeds.
The Key to Development
While highly developed countries such as Singapore offer internet users lightning-fast speeds up to 1 Gbps, increasing the average internet speed in developing countries in Southeast Asia may be the key to advancing economic progress and development in the region.
In 2011, the United Nations officially recognized internet access as a human right – underscoring the internet’s potential to promote economic, social and political progress through the rapid and inexpensive flow of capital, information, knowledge and curricula across national borders.
With the integration of ASEAN member states into the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, the internet’s role as a driver of economic progress and coordination will only become more salient. According to most analyses, lagging internet speeds and an increasing trend towards censorship across Southeast Asia will only hinder economic development and advancement.
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