THE Senate committee on economic affairs wants the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to have more power to carry out its mandate to go after erring telecommunication companies.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the committee, said the NTC, the agency in charge of regulating and supervising public telecommunications services, needs more power to impose penalties against telecommunication companies that fail to deliver satisfactory services to consumers.
The grant of additional power will be included in the committee report to be submitted by Gatchalian following the investigation held by the panel on the operation and regulation of the telecommunications industry.
The Senate hearing was called to determine if the government has ample regulatory mechanisms to make the playing field even.
“Telecommunications is a public utility, and just like other public utilities, it has to be regulated to make sure that the playing field is even, to make sure that customers are getting the value that they are paying for,” Gatchalian said.
The committee learned during the hearing that the NTC has had difficulties in imposing drastic penalties against Globe Telecoms and Smart Communications Inc. for their failure to provide satisfactory service to subscribers.
NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios told senators that they have failed to compel Globe and Smart to deliver the minimum speed of 12 megabytes per second (mbps) in Internet connectivity.
The two companies have claimed in their advertisements that they can provide that kind of Internet speed.
Gatchalian noted that because of limitations in the law, the NTC cannot do anything to force Globe and Smart to deliver what they promised to their subscribers.
He added that for such transgressions, the two companies are only required to pay a penalty of P200 per day.
“The NTC needs more teeth to better regulate the telecoms industry. I will make sure that it gets the same powers like the ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission),” Gatchalian said.
The ERC regulates the energy sector. It has extensive powers, including quasi-judicial powers, to control and penalize erring power companies. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA