FINALLY, I lose my cool. I spend the whole day writing this column, confident that I have started early enough to beat the deadline, only to find out that just when I am ready to send the manuscript through the email facilities of Smartbro, the network is down – again for the damn umpteenth time.
How can you not do a Duterte under these terribly trying circumstances: “P*****, ah, the heck with hiding the actual word, Tangna nyo!”
It is not an infrequent downing Smart does of its system. There is not a day that passes without my computer registering a “No Internet Access” notice on the monitor. In times when you are just browsing through your Facebook or Twitter page, it seems no big deal. You can just turn to Microsoft Word and resume writing your magnum opus from which you have just diverted actually for a little breather.
But in times of the Manila Times whose editorial people are daily doing the greatest performance of their lives, those many disruptions of Smart Bro load services are just unconscionable, unpardonable, unforgivable, utterly condemnable affront to freedom of expression! But of course, why not when what Smart effects with the downing of its services is the frustration of My Say for the day.
At the start of this ogre of an ordeal with Smart, my fish-eating habit worked to my advantage. You see, there was this little literature I came across long ago which disclosed that eating fish brain has the effect of toning you down on belligerency, promoting utter forbearance and circumspection, thus effacing all your combative tendencies to the extent of converting a saint out of the demon that you are. That even includes keeping faith in a girl, mind you, despite knowing that she’s cheating on you.
I don’t know about love, but I wonder though if such is the reason why of the thousands of God’s creations, what should be made a symbol of that Paradigm of Pure Love—yes, Jesus Christ—is, right, say it, Pisces, fish.
So, Smart owes it to fish that all these years I have borne with utter temperance its truly insuperable brand of serving the people. When reminders from the editorial desk of the Manila Times become unbearable, my fish-eating habit is still the one to come to the rescue. It prompts me to capture my manuscript in a USB which—tripping on the gutter but managing to keep balance anyway, and then doing a patintero with speeding vehicles on the highway and surviving it all anyway–-I rush to a computer shop where I email, at long last, the manuscript to Mr. Editor whose hollering I could hear loud and clear: “Mao, pinupukpok na ako rito ng producti…ooooon!”
I’m telling you, Mr. Smart, if I lose this column, you’ve got a good damage suit coming.
But why not just change networks. There’s that one other which the computer shop subscribed to, a different server, right? Just switch to it for your headache to be gone.
Again, my fish-eating habit gets the better of me—but only if it’s me being hit by an adversary. When just that same hurt affects millions of others, that’s otra cosa.
And that’s what finally gets me riling now. I realize the racket is victimizing not just me but the millions of others who daily get loads of Smart Bro. Just compute a million loaders having average daily loads of P100 each, that’s a staggering P100,000,000 worth of services paid for but not delivered every time Smart downs its internet facilities—or the equivalent portion of that amount corresponding to the many hours consumed by the downing.
In the operation of public utilities, this situation is a peculiarity of the internet services delivery sector. In other sectors, like water or power, customers are not required to pay for services not rendered. This is because only services delivered and actually consumed are billed for payment. Whenever there is a disruption of the delivery of services, for instance, brownouts in the case of Meralco, customers of the power company are not charged a cent during that period of brownout. Why? Because there is this system of metering which registers actual power consumed. If there is a brownout, which corresponds to the downing of the network system in the internet services sector, the meter just stops reading anything. By this system of metering consumption, no leeway is given for any anomaly of consumers being charged for services they didn’t receive.
Might not this system be adopted whereby to correct the injustice cyber networks are committing against their consumers. I am not particularly knowledgeable in this field of cyber technology, so with all due respect, I pass on this concern to Bobi Tiglao whose many dissertations in this paper has brought to public attention the anomaly involving that company on the question of ownership. This question of the network’s real owners doesn’t bother me much; capitalists are all the same regardless of their brands. What I am concerned about is that capitalist undertakings must not do damage to consumers. This frequent downing by Smart of its facilities definitely results in actual highway robbery of consumers’ money, because there is no provision whatsoever whereby consumers may recoup money already paid for services but for which money no more services are forthcoming.
If metering in the water and power sectors of public utilities are possible, why can’t it be done in the cyber sector? There must be a way to do it. The only reason it is not being done is, no regulation requires the networks to do it.
Such a regulation cannot be self-induced, for sure. Who is the capitalist to refuse a valve for turning on the untrammeled inflow of profits?
Only determined government intervention can remedy the situation. So, this surfaces as a major concern for the National Telecommunication Commission. That no action from that agency in this regard has been taken makes its silence highly suspect.
We should review the law creating that office. Paramount consideration for all government agencies, particularly those in the operation of public utilities, is the protection of the populace
If no such protection is envisaged in the current state of laws on public utilities, then the matter is now up for Congress to attend to.
Let’s see to this and other concerns in this regard next column.
Meantime, keep your fingers crossed that internet connection resumes in time for me to email this piece. If you don’t read it today, blame Smart.