It is regrettable that the National Telecommunications Commission scheduled last Dec. 21 a so-called public hearing regarding its draft memorandum-circular on minimum speeds of broadband internet connections without adequately informing the public and thus the telcos — who are the ones who badly need to be regulated and are the offending party in this issue — were the only ones who had the first crack at it.
We demand that the NTC hold a nationwide series of public consultations on the issue of broadband internet connections. Failure to deliver promised services, failure to address customer complaints, failure to compensate customers for poor or botched services, the imposition of long contracts and so-called termination fees are hallmarks of the telcos when it comes to broadband internet connections. We are sure that consumers nationwide will look forward to attending such consultations and tell the NTC what the so-called regulator should be doing.
For starters, the Memorandum-Circular 12-19-2004, which the NTC seeks to reinforce, is outdated and thus must be updated to keep with the changing times and fast paced developments in broadband internet technologies.
The Philippines attained the respected status of a social media capital in the region and in Asia while enduring so-called broadband internet connections from the telcos. Up to now, the NTC has failed to follow the lead of telecom regulators worldwide in defining what broadband internet is, whether delivered via dial-up, wired or wireless connections. For instance, the US now defines “basic broadband” as internet services with a download rate of at least 4 Mbps and an upload rate of 1 Mbps. Worldwide, the trend is to consistently raise the basic minimum.
Without such a definition, the NTC leaves telcos practically free to hoodwink end-users, including business and the government, regarding broadband internet services, the cost and pricing, and to keep Philippine internet access among the slowest and most expensive in the region. At the same time, we cannot begin to estimate the amount of access fees charged or practically extorted by telcos for undelivered, under-delivered or poor services.
Lest we forget, we have learned in previous Senate hearings that the NTC has sufficient lawful powers to initiate and implement reforms and issue rules in the telco sector, so we do not wish to hear alibis that this regulating agency could only do so much.
Our group, TXTPower, calls on all Filipino texters and netizens to flood the social web with our calls for #betterinternet and to prepare for consultations which the NTC should hold as soon as possible in 2011. For starters, follow @txtpower on Twitter and repost this statement on your social networks.
President and Chief Executive Officer