With the National Broadband Plan (NBP) expected to take three years to finish, Sen. Paulo Benigno ?Bam? Aquino IV urged the government to focus also on getting more competition by encouraging more players to join the market to improve the country’s Internet speed.
“Hindi yata kayang maghintay ng tatlong taon ng mga kababayan natin kaya dapat na itong madaliin ng pamahalaan upang mapakinabangan na ng publiko,” said Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology.
During the hearing of the Committee on Science and Technology, Department of Information and Communications (DICT) undersecretary Denis Villorente revealed that the NBP will be put up starting 2018 and it is expected to be fully operational in 2020.
Meanwhile, the DICT assured that it can effectively implement the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act, even without an NBP in place.
Aquino pushed for the passage of Senate Bill No. 1277 or the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act as principal sponsor and co-author. It was approved by the Senate on third and final reading via 18-0 vote.
“Can the Free Internet Access Act be fulfilled even without a National Broadband Plan? Kaya ba ng iba’t ibang grupo na matupad ang hangarin ng batas na ito?” Aquino asked Villorente, who replied in the affirmative.
The senator explained that the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act has a provision where its purposes should be fulfilled within two years after its passage into law. The NBP, for its part, will be put up starting 2018 and will be fully operational come 2020.
“The failure or success of this law should not be contingent on the National Broadband Plan,” Aquino pointed out, assuring the DICT that funding will be not be a problem once the measure is enacted into law.
He hopes that the NBP, once finished, can be a cheaper option in the implementation of the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act.
Meanwhile, the DICT expressed support behind the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act. The agency also committed to work with both houses of Congress during the bicameral conference committee to craft the final version of the measure.
The House of Representatives recently passed its own version on third and final reading last week. After both Houses ratify the version from the bicameral conference committee, it will be transmitted to Malacanang for President Duterte’s signature.