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Faster and cheaper Internet

Ike Señeres .

I REMEMBER writing about speed and accuracy issues in our election system. I am confidently qualified to talk about these issues, because I was formerly chairman twice of the Comelec Computerization Technical Working Group (TWG), appointed by both the Senate and the Comelec. At that time, I took the position that we had to choose one over the other, meaning that we could not have speed and accuracy at the same time. After realizing the new advances in the field of information and communications technology (ICT) at this time, I have come to the conclusion that nowadays, it is possible to achieve speed and accuracy at the same time. However, that conclusion comes with the caveat that the human factor will not come into play, such as corrupt people wanting to slow down the system for their own purposes, or to tamper with the data, also for their own purposes.

As far as the internet is concerned, I now say that we could have speed and economy at the same time, the end result of which is having faster and cheaper internet, without sacrificing one over the other. I could have been wrong, but in case of the elections, I really believed at that time that counting the results too fast would result in lesser accuracy and vice versa, prioritizing accuracy more would cause the system to go slower. Looking back, it could be said that former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman was correct in saying that only the transmission should be computerized because even now, the manual counting is not really that slow. In other words, the slowness would have been tolerable, for as long as the accuracy is commendable. In the case of internet prices however, I would dare say that long ago and up to now, it could have gone lower if only the human factor did not come into play.

Internet is internet, in much the same way that rice is rice. What that means is that the price of internet in one country should not differ much from the price of internet in other countries. That should be the same reasoning in the case of rice, meaning that the price of rice in one country should not differ much from the price of rice in other countries. Just in case you have not noticed, I am sorry to tell you that the price of internet in the Philippines is higher in many other countries. By some stretch of our imaginations, that might have been tolerable if it was faster than many other countries, but sadly it is not. That is the same story in the case of rice, the price of rice here is higher than many other countries. Again, that might have been tolerable if the quality of rice is better, but sadly, it is not.

Without any doubt, I could categorically say that faster internet is already available in many parts of our country, except that it has not become cheaper in most parts of the country. As of now, it could be said that we are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, because it seems that as of now, we could not bring down the prices of internet where it is now faster, and we could not make it faster where it is now cheaper. Whichever way you would look at this, I could confidently say that the bottom line of this is the law of supply and demand, and the commodity in question is bandwidth or to be more specific, broadband. Just like all commodities that are affected by the law of supply and demand, the price of the commodities are affected by the human factor, and by that I mean the element of greed in the pricing of the commodities.

For obvious reasons, the engineers of some internet service providers (ISPs) will never admit that internet speed in the Philippines is slower because they do not know how to make it faster. On the other hand, the managers of these ISPs might argue that they could not make internet cheaper because they still have to recover their investments. That also seems to be the logic of the managers of tollways, who argue that they have to increase toll rates because of the high costs of maintenance. That logic seems to be flawed, because as it is supposed to be, the costs of utilities are supposed to be going down as these are depreciated over a long period of time. At the very least therefore, we could suspect that there is dishonesty involved in the pricing of tollway rates, fuelled by no other than greed. Suffice it to say that that could be happening as well in the pricing of internet rates.

Although I might sound naive, I am willing to say that the separate efforts to make internet speed in the Philippines become faster and cheaper could actually run parallel to each other, wherein the two goals could possibly converge with each other. On the technology side, I already know how to make it faster. On the morality side however, I do not know how to make it cheaper, because I could not offer a cure for greed. Yes, this is a morality issue because if a company does not care for the good of the people, they would not care if they are greedy or not. As it is supposed to be, even a fraction of one percent that is stolen could already be considered as graft. There was a time when we tolerated graft up to 30 percent, but after that, we already thought it was too much. Having said that, what should be considered tolerable profits for the ISPs and what would be too much?

 

E-mail: iseneres@yahoo.com

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