DICT says telcos must now step up with work-from-home law

With the adoption of a “game-changing” labor policy through the passage of the Telecommuting Act, the government is urging telecommunication companies to level up their game to provide reliable Internet connection for workers.

DICT acting secretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr.

“The ball is now on the telcos’ court to gear up for the possible increase of demand for faster and more reliable internet connection,” Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) acting secretary Eliseo M. Rio said on Friday, 11 January, 2019, a day after the announcement that Republic Act 11165 or the Telecommuting Act was signed into law by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

The law is seen to ease traffic problems in metropolitan areas as it will institutionalize telecommuting, a work arrangement allowing employees, using ICT tools, to work from alternative workplaces.

“It is high time to adopt policies that promote ICT solutions to our daily problems such as traffic, and the telcos must embrace their role in these initiatives and see it as opportunities,” Rio added.

A work-from-home proposal was actually one of the first wave of initiatives of the newly established DICT in 2016, spearheading the drafting of the industry-backed resolution to mitigate the worsening traffic condition.

Besides reducing traffic, Rio also saw that the promotion of such working arrangement could spur content and application development in the country related to telecommuting.

Last year, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) reported that the Philippine economy loses around P3.5 billion in traffic congestion alone and may rose up to P5.4 billion by 2035 if no interventions are made.

Rio recognizes that the success of the work-from-home scheme will depend on the quality of Internet connectivity – a factor that the government is pushing to improve.

“The government is upping the ante when it comes to investing on ICT projects, but if we wish for impact to be felt by the people sooner, we expect the telcos to do the same,” Rio said, citing the entry of the new major player and the lighting up of government-owned broadband network as next milestones in the coming months.

In addition, DICT assistant secretary Alan A. Silor also expressed optimism on how the passage of the Act will improve the average Filipino’s work effectiveness. “This will increase workers productivity to work at home than spending unproductive hours in traffic”, he said.

The DICT said it also working for the passage of the Open Access and Spectrum Management bills while endorsing an industry-friendly common tower policy.

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