By Adrian M. Reodique
July 11, 2017
Makati City Rep. Luis Campos Jr. has filed a bill which seeks to expand the regulatory powers of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) over telco companies in the Philippines.
The House Bill No. 5337 aims to amend the 22-year-old Public Telecommunications Policy Act of the Philippines to classify the internet, including broadband services, as a basic telecommunication service, and put it within the jurisdiction and regulatory powers of the NTC.
"Right now, even if the NTC calls for compliance with faster connection speeds, internet service providers will simply say they hope to eventually meet the terms, but not for now," said Campos in a report by Philippine News Agency (PNA) last Friday (7 July 2017).
"And should regulators force the issue, they are vulnerable to civil lawsuits by defiant service providers," he added. Under the proposed bill, the NTC and its officers are granted with immunity from civil proceedings.
The NTC will also be tasked to develop and implement policies and programmes that would help improve telecommunication services in the country, including internet and broadband.
"This is the best solution to the country's supply of sluggish, inefficient and costly internet services. Our initiative is in keeping with the view of the United Nations Human Rights Council that all people have a right to Internet access, or the right to broadband, in order to exercise and enjoy other fundamental rights," said Campos.
Akamai Technologies' 'The State of the Internet Report' for the first quarter of 2017 ranked Philippines' average connection speed as 100th worldwide. The average connection speed in the country has increased by 20 percent quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) at 5.5 Mbps, but it is still slowest compared to other countries in the Asia Pacific region such as Indonesia (7.2 Mbps), Malaysia (8.9 Mbps), Vietnam (9.5 Mbps), and Thailand (16 Mbps).