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Improve telecom services

  • Written by Ryan Ponce Pacpaco
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 162

THE slow Internet speed in the country compared to other Southeast Asian nations became one of the major issues during the last presidential polls.

Aside from the problems on illegal drugs and crimes, we expect that President-elect Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte will make good his promise and consistently show toughness in addressing why some neighboring nations in Southeast Asia enjoy faster Internet speed at a much cheaper price.
   
It is high time for the incoming government to put an end to the problem of Filipinos who bear the brunt of slow Internet connection despite paying significant amount for the service.
   
Many Filipinos are expecting that the Duterte presidency will remain committed to improving the country’s telecoms services as best as it can.
   
With high hopes, we expect that the recently approved frequency co-use and acquisition deal among San Miguel Corp. (SMC), Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT)/Smart Communications and Globe Telecom will help internet users.
   
Under the deal that involves the purchase of SMC’s 700 MHz frequency spectrum and its Telco assets for P70 billion, consumers are about to benefit as it will lead to faster mobile Internet, addressing President-elect Duterte’s call on PLDT/Smart and Globe to improve their services.
   
This was an offshoot of the collapsed talks between SMC and Australia’s Telstra that led to the P70-billion deal among these three big companies.
   
The public expects the joint use deal will be pro-consumers because it means the two giant Telcos will now have the capacities to speed up Internet access in four to six months -- or before 2016 is over. Similar to the campaign promise of President-elect Duterte to suppress crime in just six months.
   
PLDT chairman-president Manuel “MVP” Pangilinan and Globe President-CEO Ernest Cu made separate commitments to the media to show improvement in the Internet speed in just six months.
   
Pangilinan was reported as saying that the joint use pact would enable PLDT/Smart to improve mobile Internet service in six months while Cu said Globe could do it in three to four months.
   
The good thing about this, Smart and Globe will be forced to comply with their commitment to speed up mobile Internet because one condition of the agreement is that the government’s regulator National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) can terminate the joint use contract in one year in case of any violation in the agreement within that period.
   
It simply means the NTC can revoke the deal if both, meaning PLDT and Globe, will not comply with their promise to speed up Internet service.
   
The NTC should be tough and do its mandate of protecting the consumers as government regulator by ensuring fairness in the promised faster Internet speed and possible violation of the deal.
   
But of course, the Telco industry should guarantee a fairer pricing to ensure that consumers will not be disappointed once again.
   
Incoming Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez revealed to the media that after the May 9 elections, the Duterte camp had also reached out to both PLDT/Smart and Globe to see his campaign promise of faster internet come to fruition.
   
We should also hold into the words of President-elect Duterte that Telco industry must improve its services or suffer the consequences under his administration, including the possibility of opening the Philippine Telco market to foreign players if the local companies fail to deliver.
   
The joint use agreement approved by NTC provides the following: the companies must immediately commence and implement the co-use agreement; the PLDT/Smart and Globe must provide higher broadband and internet access speeds within a year; and PLDT/Smart and Globe must come up with a rollout plan within 60 days, covering at least 90% of the cities and municipalities in three years so they can meet the ever-growing demand for broadband infrastructure and internet access.
   
The NTC is in the process of acquiring equipment that can effectively monitor Internet speed.
   
The NTC will monitor the quality of service or improvement in Internet speed monthly. Hence, there should be a marked increase in Internet speed for the month compared to the previous month. Improvement in Internet speed will be progressive.
   
The approval of the co-use has no expiration but the Telcos are required to use the frequencies immediately.
   
The failure by the Telcos to comply would mean the NTC’s termination of the co-use approval.
   
It was learned that the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), which is the newly created government body empowered to go over all business transactions that might have an impact on market competition, has been trying to flex its muscles by vowing to review this SMC-PLDT-Globe deal.
   
However, industry analysts assert that Philippine laws have virtually sealed the P70-billion Telco transaction as a done deal and outside the purview of both the PCC and NTC.
   
Republic Act (RA) No. 10667, which outgoing President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III signed and became effective in August 2015, created the PCC. But the commission was still working on this new law’s implementation rules and regulation (IRR) at the time the transaction was forged by SMC with PLDT and Smart.
   
On February 12, 2016, the PCC issued Me­morandum Circular No. 16-001(M.C. No. 16-001) to provide the transitory rules and guidelines for mergers and acquisitions that were, or are to be, executed or otherwise implemented after the effectivity of the law but before the IRR’s effectivity.
   
Again, we do not want another case of analysis leading to paralysis in pushing for better programs that would benefit the people.
   
In most cases, progress has been stalled because of too much details, tweaking, brainstorming, research and among others in making important decisions that would benefit the people.
   
The people are expecting good and positive results on this deal. Let’s just hope for the immediate implementation especially that safeguards have been placed.

* * *
   
Happy birthday to Papa Ricky Manuel, the most handsome and sweet lover among my “Morning Boys” gym buddies.
   
The group especially Papa Charles “Charlie” Limbauan and Rudolf “Mayor” Tottoc is wishing you more love, happiness and romance.

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