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Gov’t urged to make Internet basic service

  • Written by Ryan Ponce Pacpaco
  • Published in Nation
  • Read: 359

A lawmaker has urged the government to follow Canada’s declaration that high-speed Internet is a basic telecommunications service for all citizens to enjoy.

“Our sense is, the quickest way to provide all Filipinos, especially those in the countryside, high-speed Internet access is for us to do what the Canadians did,” Makati City Rep. Luis Campos Jr. said.

Campos was referring to the Canadian government’s move to proclaim broadband or high-speed Internet access a basic service, putting it in the same category as the landline telephone.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) also ordered all telecommunications players to offer consumers in all parts of Canada Internet connection speeds of at least 50 mbps.

To ensure that rural districts are not left behind, the CRTC also required telecommunications firms to contribute around one-half of one percent of all their revenues to a fund that would subsidize the rollout of broadband facilities in unserved areas.

“High-speed Internet access has become essential for every Filipino family to enjoy a superior quality of life, and for small businesses to succeed,” said Campos.

Campos’ remarks came shortly after reports that the Duterte administration’s initiative to bring in a third telecommunications player has been delayed anew, with officials still unable to agree on how it should be carried out.

The administration is counting on the new player to rev up market competition and improve broadband services.

He has been prodding Congress to pass House Bill (HB) No. 5337, which seeks to tag broadband a basic service so that all Filipinos may have access to rising Internet connection speeds in the years ahead.

The bill will subject broadband to minimum service standards and direct regulatory supervision by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

At present, the landline telephone is the only basic service within the jurisdiction and regulatory powers of the NTC under the Philippines’ 23-year-old Public Telecommunications Policy Law.

Broadband and other forms of telecommunications that emerged after the law’s passage in 1995 are considered “value-added services” beyond the NTC’s reach when it comes to compelling upgrades.

The Philippines now ranks No. 12 worldwide in terms of total number of Internet users.

More than 54 million Filipinos now use the Internet, or a penetration rate of 52 percent of the population, according to Internet World Stats (IWS).