A P77.9-billion national broadband program will stop the long-standing monopoly of the telecommunication industry in the country, a lawmaker said on Sunday.
Rep. LRay Villafuerte of Camarines Sur was referring to the draft national broadband plan of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) that aims to provide at least 10 Mbps connection to all households by 2020 at a lower cost than the ones now offered by telecommuncation companies (telcos) like Globe Telecom, PLDT and Smart Communications at P1,299 a month.
“Addressing our infrastructure backlog should be complemented by progress in digital technology access in remote communities so that people in the countryside can take advantage of expanded economic opportunities available to them. Likewise, the national broadband network will force PLDT/Smart Communications and Globe Telecom to improve their broadband services,” Villafuerte said in a statement.
He added that the national broadband program is in accordance with the Duterte administration’s vision of investing P1 trillion in infrastructure for the next five years.
“The government’s ambitious infrastructure program should not only involve building physical structure. An inclusive growth needs investments in expanding wireless connectivity. Fast access to the Internet would provide Filipinos more opportunities to increase their incomes, broaden their access to education, communications, healthcare information and electronic commerce, among others,” Villafuerte said.
Other than the fiber optic networks of PLDT and Globe, the lawmaker suggested that the DICT tap the National Gird Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP)’s lines comprising about 5,000 to 10,000 fiber optic cables.
Villafuerte noted that other Southeast Asian countries already started establishing their respective national broadband networks namely, Thailand ($114 million) and Malaysia ($4.5 billion).
He is the author of House Bill 4695, which aims to institute quality, minimum standards for mobile telephone services that would punish telecommunication firms for poor network signals, overcharging, interrupted or dropped voice calls, vanishing prepaid loads and spam messages.
Another lawmaker, Rep. Rufino Biazon of Muntinlulpa City, has filed the Faster Internet Services Act, which mandates the DICT to require Internet Service Providers/Public Telecommunications Entities (ISPs/PTEs) to deliver a minimum Internet connection speed of 10 mbps for all mobile, fixed and fixed wireless broadband/Internet access to their subscribers, or else they will pay P5 million as penalty.
Biazon’s bill also mandates the ISPs/PTEs to modify, improve or change telecommunication lines and systems or expand their infrastructure to run on higher capacity bandwidths based on the number of subscribers demanding their services.
The P5-million penalty is an initial amount since Biazon’s bill mandates the DICT to conduct a periodic review of the implementation of the proposal and, if necessary, adjust the minimum standard to provide consumers an average Internet connection speed equal to, or above what is prevalent among Asian countries or the global average.
“The Duterte administration, with its known political will, should be able to compel the Internet Service Providers to deliver such good service because businesses, even within the government, are dependent on telecommunications. If we are able to provide a top-of-the-line telecommunication services, including speedy Internet access, we will be able to bring in investors,” Biazon said earlier.
LLANESCA T. PANTI