Telcos to explain expensive but slow Internet at NTC hearing
MANILA, Philippines – The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has summoned major telecommunication players to a public consultation on the minimum speed of broadband connections.
Subscribers have been complaining about the slow broadband services in the Philippines amid the free and unlimited Internet and Facebook offerings of major telecommunications providers.
The NTC is pushing for a legislation that would identify broadband as a basic service so that the government could regulate it.
The country’s broadband service could not be regulated now since it is classified as a value added service (VAS) under Republic Act 7925 or the Public Telecommunications Policy Act of 1995.
NTC commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said in a notice of public consultation and hearing that the players should submit on or before November 4 their proposed changes to Memorandum Order No. 07-2011 or the minimum speed of broadband connections.
The proposed amendments should include the parameters to be measured and period of measurement to be discussed in a public hearing on November 7.
Cordoba added that NTC and the major shareholders should agree on who would conduct the measurement, including the methods of mediation and arbitration in case of disputes.
The regulator is also drafting a circular to set the minimum standards, such as speed of broadband offerings.
The circular being prepared by NTC would also require telecom providers to remove or clarify terms such as “unlimited” or “up to” with regard to speed and size of data offered.
Cordoba previously said the NTC is set to roll out the benchmarking of the broadband services of telecommunication providers led by dominant carrier Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Ayala-led Globe Telecom Incorporated.
The regulator is seeking a P15.5 million ($345,704.22)* appropriation for the 2015 budget to buy a benchmarking equipment, including a vehicle for the broadband service of the telecommunications providers.
The benchmarking would help determine the quality of broadband service being delivered by such companies, Cordoba said.
To ensure that the telecommunication companies provide better service to their subscribers, NTC used to conduct quality of service benchmarking tests for voice calls and SMS for the voice calls and short messaging system (SMS) or text messages offered by PLDT’s Smart Communications and Ayala’s Globe.
The parameters set by the regulator for previous benchmarking tests included the blocked calls or grade of service, dropped calls, average signal level, and call setup time.
Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, chair of the Senate committee on trade and commerce, said in a hearing last week that making broadband a basic service would allow the NTC to regulate it by imposing standards and pricing.
Aquino filed Senate Resolution 620, citing that the slow and expensive Internet connection is severely affecting the ease of doing business in the 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 September.
In a 9-page advisory signed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, the DOJ-Office for Competition said it will not hesitate to sanction ISPs that will shortchange their subscribers. – Rappler.com