Here’s the thing about video streaming: You need fast Internet speed to do it. The global leader in subscription service Netflix requires at least 1.5 Mbps for standard definition (SD) and 5 Mbps for high-definition (HD) streaming. The go-to site for Asian network shows HOOQ requires at least 2 Mbps for computers and 3G access for mobile devices. The video giant YouTube is a bit more forgiving, requiring only a minimum of 500 kbps for videos and 1 Mbps for premium content.
As of late 2016, the average Internet speed in the Philippines was recorded at 4.2 Mbps, a far cry from the fastest average speed in APAC, South Korea with 26.3 Mbps. Technology provider Akamai noted how, along with India, the Philippines “once again had the lowest average connection speeds among surveyed countries/regions in Asia Pacific.”
When you think about it, 4 Mbps may not be so bad, right? It’s way beyond what Netflix, HOOQ, and YouTube require. But there are still several problems. For instance, streaming is only one of many online activities that Filipinos love. We also need real-time access to data-hogging activities such as checking social media sites, online and mobile gaming, online shopping, and location-based searching.
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The Clamor for On-Demand Access
But speed or no speed, Filipinos can’t be stopped when it comes to watching their favorite shows. Surely, many of your homes still carry the marks of distant video past inside those rusting Betamax, VHS, and VCD players. Kids of the '90s will recall their first foray into the recesses of video piracy via obscure services like Limewire and PirateBay if only to complete collections of ripped content inside iconic hamburger VCD cases. Oh, and let’s not forget about those frequent after-school trips to our friendly neighborhood, if not seedy, VCD and DVD rental shops. You just know you forgot to return one of those, didn’t you?
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It seems that Filipinos have always had a soft spot for getting the shows they want on demand. And with the advent of video streaming services and sites, this itch is only going to get a lot harder to satisfy. Now if only there’s something we can do about the state of the Internet in the country.
One Upgrade to First-World Streaming, Please
Many Filipinos are tech-savvy digital natives, and talking about the state of the Internet connection in the country is a sore spot that’s meant to only anger people. So we asked industry expert Martha Sazon, Globe Senior Vice President for Broadband Business, to shed light on what's really happening:
On leveling up the state of the Philippine internet: "We know that [the Philippines] is a developing country; it is an emerging market, but that should not stop us from experiencing what the first-world homes are experiencing. The first saga would be entertainment or specifically anything that you watch on TV because that’s... the most visible thing that you [sic] at home when you want to socialize so we changed all our plans so that you get three times the speed and three times your daily allowance for the same price."
On the real deal about gigabytes: "One gigabyte is one hour of watching a movie or any show, so that’s 100 hours of watching Netflix. [This] clarifies the notion that if it’s unlimited, it’s good. [You may be on] unlimited [data], but your speed is so slow, so there’s no use to it. So with this, we are increasing your speed and we’re giving you decent and really really good data allowances."
Samsung Smart TV
On what people should know about streaming, in layman’s terms: "Think of each of the app or the streaming app as a channel. You can switch shows anytime you watch. It’s on your terms. And then imagine that’s just one app. Imagine access to 15,000 apps, you have Netflix, you have YouTube, you have ABC, and then we can customize your viewing. We partnered with Netflix, of course, they’re number one recently. We only partnered with the best in basketball, that’s NBA; the best in international [providers] that mixes Korean and Filipino content, that’s HOOQ. They’re one of the pioneers here in Asia. We also recently partnered with Tribe and of course Disney. We recently partnered with YouTube Kids as well. What’s good though is that they have access globally and thousands of shows. Imagine things that you couldn’t watch before or used to be available exclusively in the US. Now you can watch in real time and at same time as the US and the UK. I remember Crown. I was traveling in the UK then, and then I met someone who’s from there and then we got to talk and we talked about Crown and he was so surprised that I knew about the Crown. So, imagine that. Suddenly, you’re at par. That’s what we call first-world living right at their home. Our physical environment should not limit us from enjoying first-world living and being on par with our global friends."
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