A global survey on Internet access in countries around the world has revealed that the Philippines placed 54th out of 86 overall and 9th out of 23 lower-middle-income countries.
The new edition of the Inclusive Internet Index said the overall ranking of the Philippines suffers from low affordability as its competitive environment stands at 81st in the world. However, the country?s readiness — buoyed by trust and safety — ranks 16th globally.
The study also noted that the Philippines was the top country in gender inclusion, with an average gender access gap of 14.3% in favor of women.
The Inclusive Internet Index, compiled by The Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Facebook, revealed a healthy increase in Internet access since last year, amid expanding 4G coverage and falling mobile costs.
The index provides an international benchmark of Internet inclusion across four categories: availability, affordability, relevance and readiness. Its aim is to measure the extent to which Internet use promotes positive social and economic outcomes.
Among the 70 countries included in both the 2017 and 2018 surveys, the average percentage of households connected to the Internet grew by 44.9% to 48.6% — an 8.3% increase.
Progress on this front was fastest among low-income countries included in the Index, where the average percentage of connected households increased from 8.0% to 13.2%, a 65.1% improvement.
The index also identified rapid expansion in the availability of mobile Internet services. Coverage of 4G mobile services grew significantly, especially in countries including Guatemala, where it grew 3,935.0%, and Indonesia (658.8%).
Meanwhile, the average price of a 500MB prepaid mobile broadband data plan as a percentage of monthly income fell from nearly 3.3% last year to 2.9% in 2018, an improvement of 10.1%.
The 2018 index is accompanied by a new ?Value of the Internet? survey, which canvassed 4,267 Internet users across 85 countries to assess the impact it has on their lives.
The survey revealed that the Internet is a source of empowerment, especially to citizens in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Just under six in ten respondents in the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia agree that the ?use of the Internet has helped me become more independent?.
However, the survey also revealed that privacy and security concerns are limiting Internet use, especially in Europe. In all, 85% of respondents say privacy concerns have limited their use of the Internet to some degree.