An activist organization of local ICT professionals has branded the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) as ?inutile? for allegedly failing to institute stronger pro-consumer policies in its draft memorandum circular on Internet speed and standards.
The Computer Professionals Union (CPU) said in a statement posted on its Facebook page that the NTC has shirked on its duty to regulate the telecommunications industry.
?The NTC, the regulating body tasked to ensure public interest comes first on the conduct of business of the two monopolies, has been inutile ever since,? the group said in its statement.
CPU said the current quality of Internet service in the country is unacceptable as it cited the ITU?s Measuring Internet Society 2014, which ranked the Philippines at 122nd among 166 countries on international Internet bandwidth per user with 57kbps data rate, which it said is similar to a dial-up speed.
?The refusal of telcos to interconnect locally requires that traffic be routed to international exchange facilities causing high latency in Internet access. It would be a pointless attempt to redefine minimum or even average speed if telcos are not compelled to interconnect locally and acquire or allocate additional international Internet bandwidth for consumers,? it stressed.
The group also hit the NTC?s definition of broadband in the draft memorandum as having a minimum speed of 256kbps.
?To show the backwardness of NTC’s broadband definition, its South Korean counterpart has already considered the ?evolving? nature of broadband speed when it was created. Back in 1995, private companies in South Korea were required to have at least 2Mbps speed. By 2005, broadband was redefined to a speed of 50 – 100Mbps. Presently, broadband services is again redefined to 100 – 1Gbps,? it said
?We need a similar regulating body with foresight and technical know-how for the interest of consumers and power to compel telcos to act on such regulations,? CPU added.
The ICT organization also said requiring reliability to only 80% and allowing ?best effort? means giving telcos ?an easy way out for poor network coverage.”
?Public utilities should be able to provide quality service at all times, otherwise, it becomes an inconvenience to us. It has been a common practice for enterprise service level agreements to have a provider commit to a 99% reliability. Why not have similar commitment to consumers?? it argued.
CPU said the telcos could have used their resources to implement the technical requirements needed to significantly improve Internet speed in the country.
?However, rather than investing on additional infrastructures, manpower and other resources, the telcos have opted to limit their Internet service offerings — from data caps disguised as fair use policies to network throttling,? the group said.
CPU noted that in 2014, PLDT and Globe reported revenues of P170 billion and P103B billion with P35 billion and P13 billion in profits, respectively. For both companies, it pointed out that data services or providing Internet access contributed primarily on the huge revenues.
The group said that rather than coming up with a stricter memo on broadband connections, the NTC has given the telcos more loopholes to maintain the current level of service quality.
?In a supposedly deregulated industry, regulating bodies are mandated to protect the public from misleading business practices and profiteering but with this ?average speed memo,? NTC is protecting telcos rather than us, consumers,? it concluded.