The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to renew and expand the legislative franchise of a local telecom firm into a full-fledged wireless and broadband operator.
The House approved on third reading HB 5177 seeking to renew for another 25 years the franchise of Infocom Communications Network Inc. (ICNI), now known as Now Telecom. The company is controlled by businessman Mel Velarde.
The bill expands the nature and scope of the franchise granted to ICNI to wireless telecommunications systems, including mobile, cellular, and fiber optics, among others.
The bill was authored by Rep. Ronald Cosalan (Lone District, Benguet) and Rep. Franz Alvarez (1st District, Palawan).
Cosalan said advancements in technology, more particularly in telecommunications, requires further amendment of the franchise to include fiber optics, satellite and wireless communication systems.
“Modernization and economic development of the country are highly dependent on available systems that telecommunication companies are forced to adopt and adapt such advancements in technology for the common good,” Cosalan said.
The bill provides that the grantee is mandated to secure from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity or the appropriate permits and licenses. The NTC, for its part, shall have the authority to regulate the construction and operation of its telecommunications system.