MANILA, Philippines – Internet service providers (ISP) should deliver the same fast, consistent, and reliable service that they peddle in their big-budget advertisements, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.
In a 9-page advisory signed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, the DOJ-Office for Competition (DOJ-OFC) said it will not hesitate to sanction ISPs that will shortchange their subscribers.
Any misrepresentation in their advertisements violates the provisions of Republic Act (RA) No. 7394 or the Consumer Act and the RA 7925 or the Public Telecommunications Policy Act of 1995, DOJ-OFC warned.
The DOJ-OFC noted that most telecommunication companies are enticing consumers by showcasing their various offers, either bundled with gadgets or fixed with specific data usage.
Also, ISPs only specify the maximum speed for downlink/uplink connections in their advertisements and other promotional materials, DOJ-OFC noted. It pointed out that this allows ISPs to provide slower connection speed than they advertise.
"Such practice thus creates confusion among consumers. In reality, subscribers are short-changed because they are not guaranteed fast, consistent and reliable Internet service but pay for a quality of service that is below par," DOJ-OFC stated. (READ: UN report: Only 37% of Filipinos have Internet access)
ISPs also fail to reveal the implementation of Fair Use Policy (FUP) or data cap in their advertisements.
FUP is implemented to give end-users equal opportunities to access their services, but heavy Internet users who have exceeded their data limit are expected to experience slower connection.
Telecommunication firms in the Philippines have been criticized for their failure to disclose their broadband service terms to their consumers, prompting NTC to probe into complaints raised by their subscribers.
In August, Smart Communications was summoned when it claimed it is offering 5G mobile services in the country. Mobile sector watchers across the globe said the technology would not be available in a decade or so.
"The consumers must be fully informed about this term of use. It follows that non-specification of FUP is an indication of a false, deceptive or misleading advertisement," the advisory added.
ISPs should be more transparent to their subscribers
The DOJ-OFC also cited NTC Memorandum Order No. 07-07-2011, stating guidelines on minimum speed connections for Internet services.
ISPs are required to provide a minimum service reliability of 80%, the memorandum noted.
The memorandum also directs ISPs to indicate in their advertisements and other promotional materials, as well as in their service agreements from the service rates of their Internet offers to the minimum connection speed and the service reliability.
The DOJ-OFC said the NTC may file appropriate administrative case against ISPs for failure to comply with the memorandum.
"The NTC should religiously assess the monthly service reliability of the various ISPs in order to ensure stable, fast, and undisrupted internet connection. There must be a mechanism that will enable the Commission to compile and compare the monthly measures for systematic scanning," the DOJ-OFC said.
The DOJ-OFC said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the NTC are tasked to implement the Consumer Act and the Public Telecommunications Policy Act, respectively. –Rappler.com
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