The Philippines’ main carriers agreed to establish a bilateral internet protocol (IP) peering agreement to improve internet speeds in the country.

Under a memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed Thursday, June 16, PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom Inc. will allow the direct local exchange of traffic between PLDT’s Philippine Internet Exchange (PhIX) and Globe Internet Exchange (GIX) that is allotted to each other’s own broadband and mobile customers.

“The MOA paves the way for the initial phase of bilateral peering which is localized IP traffic exchange between the PLDT Group broadband and mobile subscribers and Globe Group subscribers, which should be completed 30 days after the execution of the MOA,” PLDT said in a statement.

The agreement also mandates the telcos to work towards executing a “fuller” bilateral peering agreement within 90 days after the initial phase has been accepted.

“This is a very positive development and is in line with our digital pivot. We are focused on taking effective measures to improve internet services in the country. IP peering is one such measure. By keeping local traffic local, we improve the internet experience of both PLDT and Globe subscribers,” PLDT Executive Vice President and Head of Enterprise Ernesto Alberto said.

“The intention here is to keep local traffic within the country which should lower latency due to less hops and thus, should result in marked improvements in fixed broadband and mobile internet services in the country,” he said.

The peering is expected to also benefit subscribers of Bayan Telecommunications, which Globe Telecom acquired not too long ago.

The impact of the IP peering is positive to several elements, namely better experience for domestically hosted online gaming, peer-to-peer connections such as torrents, locally-hosted content, lower latency or ping and better VoIP call quality.

However, what will become of other ISPs like Converge ICT who probably does not have such arrangements?

Under the whip-cracking incoming administration, President Rodrigo Duterte minced no words in threatening PLDT and Globe (and possibly the other ISPs) to improve services, or wake up the next day with foreign rivals in the country.

PLDT still has to double up on its improvements. In terms of data exchange, there’s this PHOpenIX where among major ISPs, PLDT is only enforcing IP peering for government websites and not traffic in general. They previously refused to participate in the exchange, citing cybersecurity issues and data exchange policies, which other ISPs had no qualms about.

The bilateral IP peering is a good start but still far away from the goal of better internet.

Better than nothing though.