Is the Philippines about to become the global leader for Internet access using TV white spaces? It looks as though that is going to happen, as the Philippines government is plans to introduce free Wi-Fi services to half of its towns and cities in 2015 and nationwide coverage by the end of 2016, presumably using TV white spaces networks.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to argue that if the plan succeeds, similar initiatives could occur elsewhere in Southeast Asia, as Indonesia, for example, also is an island archipelago. The fact that the Philippines is a country of 7,107 islands accounts for the cost and difficulty of supplying quality Internet access. Those same conditions hold for Indonesia.
In 2014 the Philippines Department of Science and Technology said TV white spaces was being deployed at 100 sites, making the Philippines the largest commercial deployer of TV white spaces in Asia.
Undersecretary Louis Casambre of the DOST ICT Office said private company Nityo Infotech would be operating the network. The currently available TVWS equipment can deliver up to 6 megabits per second of data at a maximum range of 10 kilometers.
Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT ) will supply the database that specifies which frequencies are available for use in each area.
The free Internet service will be available in areas such as public schools, hospitals, airports and parks, in areas without other Internet access coverage, said Monchito Ibrahim, deputy executive director of the Information and Communications Technology Office.
The government expects the new government-funded service will put pressure on the two leading mobile providers to boost speeds and lower prices on their networks.That is a reasonable expectation.
So far, no specific mention has been made of specific technology platforms to be used to provide the Internet access.
According to recent Ookla rankings, Philippines Internet access is expensive, averaging US$18 (Php840)/Mbps compared with the worldwide average of only US$5 (Php230)/Mbps.
Mobile operators Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and Globe Telecom are certain to respond with faster mobile access. That is precisely the outcome the government wanted, and expects.