House Bill 5337 makes internet access a basic telecommunications function
There’s been plenty of suggestions on how to fix our perennial problem with slow internet, but for Deputy Minority Leader Rep. Luis Campos Jr., the solution is simple: re-classify the definition of internet access to a basic telecommunications function to allow the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to have better regulation powers and oversight over internet services.
Currently, internet services in the Philippines is considered a “value-added service (VAS)”. Campos’ House Bill 5337 will redefine internet services as a prime telecommunications function, which gives the NTC more regulatory powers when it comes to the quality and speed of the internet access offered by the different telcos.
“Right now, even if the NTC calls for compliance with faster connection speeds, Internet service providers will simply say they hope to eventually meet the terms, but not for now,” Campos said. “And should regulators force the issue, they are vulnerable to civil lawsuits by defiant service providers.”
Under Campos’ bill, internet service providers that fail to deliver accelerating speeds within prescribed deadlines will face up to Php 100,000 in daily fines up to 500 days which could potentially lead to fines of up to Php 50 million for ever instance of non-compliance.
The bill seeks to amend the 22-year-old Public Telecommunications Policy Law of the Philippines, or Republic Act 7925.
“When Congress passed that law way back in 1995, the Internet was just starting to become available in the country,” Campos said. In fact, there is no mention of the Internet or Internet service in the law at all. That is how antiquated the law has become,” Campos said.