Posted: January 12th, 2011 | Author: tonyo | Filed under: Media, News, Statements | 6 Comments »
We welcome reports that the National Telecommunications Commission has removed the broadband cap clause in its controversial draft memorandum-circular on minimum broadband speeds. This is a victory of Filipino netizens over abusive telcos who wanted to get away with highway robbery.
But that is not enough. With the broadband cap already set aside, the NTC should use all its powers to address the mounting demands of Filipino internet users, big and small, for #betterinternet and to curb the abuses of the telcos.
Lest we forget, several telcos are already implementing broadband caps on their substandard services. The NTC must correct this absurd situation.
We hope that the NTC would consider the eight-point demands of netizens as contained in our online petition.
The NTC should push through with the public consultations in major cities nationwide, and another round in Metro Manila so the agency would know what the problems are. Netizens and consumers are not taking it lightly that the NTC chose to consult only with telcos from Sept. 2010 until the Jan. 11 public hearing which was compelled by a consumer uproar.
We also look forward to a public hearing being pushed by Representatives Raymond Palatino (Kabataan) and Antonio Tinio (ACT) in the House of Representatives. Palatino, a co-convenor of TXTPower, is the author of House Resolution No. 407 directing the House Committee on ICT to conduct an inquiry on substandard broadband services. Tinio was also among the original co-convenors of TXTPower in 2001.
President and CEO
Posted: January 11th, 2011 | Author: tonyo | Filed under: Media, News, Statements | 7 Comments »
By Tonyo Cruz
President and CEO
Position Paper on the
Draft Memorandum Circular on Minimum Broadband Speeds
National Telecommunications Commission Public Hearing
Jan. 11, 2011
We in TXTPower.org Inc. are here on behalf of end-users, netizens, social media experts, internet entrepreneurs, internet-intensive businesses of all shapes and sizes and even government agencies whose work now depends on having reliable and quick internet connections.
We thank the Commission for holding this public hearing. Let us however ask the Commission to check its hosting provider for its uptime record because the agency’s website suffers from frequent downtime, and that the Commission spread its announcements for public hearings via other more modern and more effective means. As the agency supposedly overseeing the steadily advancing telecommunications industry, the Commission to seize the opportunities to latch on social media and use its tools to interact, consult and hear from the public. We hope to see you soon on Twitter and Facebook, and that future public hearing be streamed live on the internet.
As of today, hundreds have signed an online petition for #betterinternet, a broad, nationwide and multi-stakeholder campaign demanding improved broadband internet services across all providers and across all modes of service delivery, whether wired or wireless, prepaid or postpaid.
Broadband internet connections in the Philippines badly need improvement and this is where the Commission, the government’s regulatory agency, must step in. The problem starts with the Commission’s continued failure to define broadband connections, whether wired or wireless.
For instance, we wish to know straight from the Commission how it defines the following, including but not limited to their standard download and upload speeds:
Without such definitions, the Commission, the Republic, the consumers and end-users and the telecommunications supposedly offering broadband services are at a loss. Without such definitions, it would be foolish to ask telcos to arbitrarily and baselessly prescribe minimum speeds and impose so-called data caps.
The telcos have their own arbitrary definitions of these terms, punctuated by weird phrases such as “burstible speeds”, “up to X kbps” or “up to X mbps”. Global organizations such as the ITU and the GSMA also have their definitions and we wonder which ones are legally applicable to the Philippines.
Only after the Commission sets those definitions could we logically and factually set so-called minimum standards. Doing so without such definitions would be against the interests of consumers and the Republic. Doing so would allow telco abuse insofar as these letting these companies, who hold congressional franchises, cheat and abuse the public through false advertising, among others.
Yes, honorable Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners, cheating and abuse exists in the industry that delivers so-called broadband internet connections. They take many forms like false advertising, non-delivery of promised services, woefully inadequate contact points for consumer feedback and complaints, inaction on such complaints, among others. There is no industry-wide standard regarding rebates and refunds which are usually dependent on the tender mercies of telco supervisors and the patience and perseverance of consumers.
In the eyes of consumers, big and small, the broadband internet industry is like a race. But it is a race among turtles. Imposing caps would be like putting speed limits on slow-moving turtles.
We have read from online media about the position of the chamber of telcos about their flotsam of a position on broadband data caps wherein they assert that it these are allegedly good for consumers. The Commission should seize this opening to perform an audit on the telcos internet-provisioning infrastructure. It is one thing for telcos to say that a small percentage of consumers abuse their networks, but is another and more important thing to know whether they actually deliver the promised services and whether they have at the moment or in the future the capacity to deliver them.
We are in favor of Fair Use Policies. But that should not be used an excuse to deny the Philippines broadband definitions and standards. It takes two to tango: Truly workable, practical Fair Use Policies could succeed if networks deliver.
The issue of consumer abuse is weird because telcos actually encourage consumers to use the internet, to become avid internet users, to watch and upload videos and photos. The fact of the matter is that the Philippines has become a social media capital, partly due to the encouragements of the telcos. Now, we are shocked that they are taking it against us that we are allegedly abusing their services and infrastructure.
We wish to stress: 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 and to lower the rates.
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.
If answered, these concerns would benefit consumers, the Republic and the telcos themselves. The telcos would have standards to live up to and enhance their relations with their subscribers.
We will immediately post this position paper online on the TXTPower.org website and send copies via email to the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners, without prejudice to our submission of supplemental papers. We also hope that further hearings be held by the Commission, not just here in Metro Manila but also in the provinces where there are as many as diverse problems with broadband internet connections.