Alibaba Group founder and Chinese billionaire Jack Ma told everyone at his talk at De La Salle University-Manila yesterday something they are already painfully aware of: Internet in the Philippines is very slow.
“It’s no good,” were his exact words.
Those who attended the talk laughed at Ma’s comment.
According to Inquirer.net, executives from the Philippines only two internet providers — Globe Telecom and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) — were in the room when he said this.
“Blame them (Smart and Globe) for the slow internet,” event moderator Joey Concepcion, the presidential adviser for entrepreneurship, chimed in, pointing to Globe CEO Ernest Cu and PLDT executive vice president Eric Alberto.
The State of the Internet report for the first quarter of 2017 found that — once again — the Philippines had the slowest internet connection in the Asia Pacific region with an average connection speed of 5.5 Mbps.
But Ma refused to point fingers at anyone.
“Honestly, it’s unfair to blame anybody… When we started Alibaba, the speed of internet in China was terrible. Much worse than today’s Philippines, much worse,” Ma responded.
Trying to keep the mood of the talk positive, Ma added, “this is the potential, this is the opportunity, and I encourage this government, entrepreneurs, everybody, to work together to improve the speed and coverage of the internet.”
Under Philippine law, foreign companies can only own up to 40 percent of a telecommunications company with a local partner, which limits potential competition.
President Rodrigo Duterte said last month that to improve internet service and speed, he would push for allowing foreign telcos to operate independently in the country.
Globe, however, said that the government is also to blame for slow internet speeds and urged them to make the process of getting permits to build more cell towers easier.
“This has been our position since the beginning. We have been calling for government support to ease permitting issues in order to build more infrastructure like cell sites, which we need,” Globe senior VP for corporate communications Yolanda Crisanto told GMA News.
You can watch Ma’s entire talk at De La Salle University here: