The country?s telecommunications firms should help pay for the government?s national broadband network project that seeks to improve public access to high-speed Internet services in areas with inadequate connectivity, Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said Sunday, July 16.
?The President, who can be very forceful, should consider simply telling telecommunications service providers to put up a counterpart fund that will help pay for project, and they might just readily comply without complaining,? Atienza said.
?After all, these telecommunications companies have been raking in billions of pesos in profits every year from the use of our airwaves that are wholly owned by the State,? Atienza said.
He added: ?Besides, why should government alone shoulder the full cost of a project that is meant to extend a service that these telecommunications firms should be providing to begin with??
The lawmaker said the President?s already record-high public approval rating ?might just go through the roof? once he directs telecommunications companies to help subsidize the network that would supply high-speed Internet services to underserved areas.
Everywhere around the world, Atienza said strong governments have been flexing their muscles and compelling telecommunications players to do their share in expanding public access to the Internet.
Atienza cited the case of the Canadian government, which recently declared high-speed Internet a basic service, and ordered telecommunications firms to contribute a percentage of their revenues to $750-million fund meant to build broadband infrastructure in rural areas over the next five years.
?We are absolutely supportive of the President?s goal to deliver superior Internet services to the countryside. The lack of access to broadband is a roadblock to faster social and economic development,? Atienza said.
?In fact, we have thousands of public schools that still do not have any Internet connectivity, let alone broadband. And if we do not address this gap quickly, we are in effect promoting gross inequality,? he said.
?Our schoolchildren in the provinces are being deprived of the benefits of Internet access that their counterparts in highly urbanized areas are enjoying fully,? Atienza said.
Pres. Duterte ordered in March the rollout of a national broadband network that could cost up to P200 billion, according to Department of Information and Communications Technology secretary Rodolfo Salalima.