Internet can boost economy – networking firm

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Stephen Thomas Misa of Cisco Systems Philippines stresses a point during a convention Tuesday. Photo by Matikas Santos

MANILA, Philippines – If more people are connected to the internet, it can move the economy faster and even increase the country’s growth, an international computer networking company said Tuesday during an annual networking convention in the country.

“Increasing the number of people with access to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) facilities, such as the Internet, will have great economic impact,” Stephen Thomas Misa, Cisco Systems Philippines Country General Manager, said citing a study conducted by Nathan Institute and Oxford Institute.

“They measured the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) correlation [to] an increase in percentage of the population having access to ICT, they said that you can improve your GDP by as much as one percent,” Misa said.

A 10 to 20 percent increase in the number of Internet users in a population “would speed up the levers of the economy,” Misa said.

“It will put more armed workers or people, especially in the countryside. [They] will be armed with greater information for agriculture, manufacturing, trade, business, selling their products and services across the world, and not just limiting themselves in the market,” he said.

The increase in the number of Internet users can have a one percent increase on the GDP of the economy “and this is why it is very important for countries to have a national broadband infrastructure, made available at a lower cost to the Filipino people,” Misa said.

He added that the Philippines is the only country in Asia that doesn’t have a national broadband infrastructure. “It’s all in the hands of the private sector,” Misa said.

Information and education

Tom Koenig, Cisco Systems Mobility Business Development Manager, said in an interview that the Internet provides a vast amount resources that will be greatly beneficial to people.

“If you think about the difference between one person who has Google and another who doesn’t, it’s really a big difference,” Koenig said.

The Internet helps people improve their productivity by giving them information that educates them, he said.

Even the academic sector was benefiting from the Internet with many students using it. He said that it is a source for majority of the learning that they get, with only a lesser part coming from the professors.

The Internet “helps accelerate learning” and that is why many schools are working to provide their students with computers that have Internet access and tablets as well.

Global increase

A study by Cisco named the “Visual Networking Index Forecast 2011-2016″ said that by 2016, there will be 3.4 billion Internet Users, about 45 percent of the world’s projected population according to United Nations’ estimates.

In the Asia-Pacific region alone, there will be 1.7 billion Internet users by 2016, exceeding America which will have 269 million users.

Internet traffic is also expected to increase, majority of which will come from mobile devices. The study said that 94 percent of traffic came from personal computers in 2011, but will fall in 2016 to just 81 percent as more people shift to mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.

The number of mobile device users is forecast to grow from 3.7 billion in 2011 to 4.5 billion in 2016, the study said.

In the Philippines, however, Misa said that only 33 percent of Filipinos currently have Internet access. The speed of Internet in the country was also near the bottom of the charts when compared with neighboring countries, he said.

He however said that there is nothing stopping the country from being at par with other countries in Internet speed. “What is needed is a unified plan” to provide Internet connectivity to the entire country, he said.

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