A consumer group is urging the government to set aside more budget for internet infrastructure in the country, noting that Filipinos are now living in the digital age where a lot of operations are now being done online.

In a statement, Bantay Konsyumer, Kalsada, Kuryente (BK3) said that internet connection is a human right, and that investments in broadband infrastructure should be a priority, as access to the internet should not be limited.

"Hindi na dapat luho ang pag-access sa internet... ang dulot ng connectivity ng internet sa mga transaksyon sa pagitan ng mga konsyumer at mga negosyante, sa pagkalap ng impormasyon at pakikipag-ugnayan hanggang ordinaryong mamamayan, at sa pangkalahatang pagpapadala at pagpapasimple ng marami sa ating ordinaryong gawain," BK3 said in a statement posted on Facebook.

[Access to the internet should not be limited to leisure... Internet connectivity now facilitates transactions between consumers and businessmen, information gathering and communication among common people, and the submission of simple tasks].

"Kailangang matugunan ang isyu ng kakulangan sa access sa internet sa lalong madaling panahon," it added.

[The issue of lack of internet connectivity should be addressed immediately].

Government data shows that the country is still miles behind its neighboring countries in terms of broadband connectivity, due to the lack of infrastructure for internet connection.

Data from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in 2021 showed that there are more than 22,000 cell sites in the country, less than a third of Vietnam's 90,000, and that they are shared between three telcos. The Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) proposes 35,000 additional cell sites.

According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Philippines has the lowest coverage rates of telecom towers in the Southeast Asian region and will need an additional 60,000 towers by 2031 in remote areas.

Several lawmakers and stakeholders in the telecommunications industry are also suggesting the revision of the National Building Code of 1977 to remove the lease for telecommunications infrastructure to help telcos get access to cell sites faster and help address internet connectivity woes among Filipinos.

House Bill Nos. 8534 and 900, which have the same objective, are two measures presented in the House of Representatives that seek to give property developers precise rules and a precise definition for how much space they must set aside to provide essential telecommunication services.

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