The House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill 6557, which seeks to promote open access in data transmission and provide additional powers to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
As defined under the measure, “data transmission” refers to the process of sending digital or digitized analog signal over a communication medium to one or more computing network/s, communication or electronic device/s.
The term data transmission includes the provision of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services but does not include the provision of basic telephone services.
Meanwhile, the bill refers to “open access” as the system of allowing the use of data transmission and/or distribution systems and associated facilities subject to fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms in a transparent market.
Tarlac representative Victor Yap, chairman of the committee on information and communications technology and principal author of the bill, said it is necessary to ensure open access to allow every option to improve data transmission.
“Data transmission is a key factor in communications and this measure seeks to establish a regulatory framework to develop efficient and effective data transmission in the long term,” he said.
The bill is in line with the policy of the State to narrow the digital divide in the country by encouraging the development of data transmission infrastructure and removing any barrier to competition in data transmission services.
Likewise, it aims to establish a strong and independent regulatory body and system to ensure and enhance fair competition in the data transmission sector.
The bill also seeks to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem where persons who wish to engage in the data transmission industry can compete openly and freely in the spirit of fair competition and permission-less innovation.
It also intends to encourage investment in the digital infrastructure of the country.
Furthermore, the proposal seeks to protect the public interest as it is affected by its ability to access data networks.
The bill provides that any person or entity whose business deals substantially with the transmission of data, including VoIP service provider, Internet service providers (ISPs), and data centers shall be governed by the proposed law.
Among the functions of the NTC provided in the bill is to ensure that the data transmission sector remains open and accessible to all qualified participants by implementing an efficient and speedy administrative process in the authorization and registration of data transmission sector participants.
It shall also mandate interconnection so that data transmission industry participants can connect to each other at the various segments and interfaces, such that entities of any size may freely enter and exit the market, and dominance by any single player or group of players is avoided.
The NTC is also mandated to adopt a technology-neutral framework that allows data transmission industry participants to use any available technology to provide service.
It shall promote fair and open competition at all multiple layers of the data transmission network, allowing a wide variety of physical networks and applications to interact in an open architecture.
The agency is also tasked to mandate transparency in pricing and the publication of pricing information to ensure fair trading within and between each data transmission segment so as to allow clear, comparative information on market prices and services.
It shall also promulgate policies that will encourage distributed local solutions rather than centralized ones, encouraging services that are closer to the user.