House ICT panel blasts Globe on comment on Open Access Bill

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The Committee on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) of the House of Representatives has issued a statement in response to the comment of Globe Telecom chief technology and information officer Gil Genio made in a story published by Newsbytes.PH on June 5.

The House ICT committee conducting a hearing. At left is committee chair Victor Yap

Genio was quoted in the story as saying that “there is lack of clarity” on Open Access and that “there are a lot of bills, discussions and policy statements, but nothing has been pushed forward.”

The House panel said it was compelled to respond to Genio’s statement as it “belies the hard work that has been exerted by Congress in order to introduce pro-competition and pro-consumer ICT policy reforms over the past years.”

The ICT committee noted that Globe, along with other stakeholders, was part of the public hearings it conducted before the bill was passed.

The House of Representatives approved House Bill No. 6557 or the “Open Access in Data Transmission” bill on November 21, 2017. The Senate is pushing forward with its own version of the Open Access bill in Senate Bill No. 1763.

The “Open Access” bill seeks to unlock the market by lowering the regulatory barriers and cost to entry for those who wish to offer data transmission services at any segment of the network, according to the panel.

“As a regulatory framework, Open Access promotes transparency and a level-playing field for big and small Internet service providers alike, by ensuring that anyone has access to data network infrastructure, subject to fair and reasonable terms,” the panel said in its statement.

This set-up, it added, allows even the small players to build and operate a network in their communities and to connect directly to the international connectivity, backbone or middle-mile facilities of bigger network operators.

“Most importantly, the bill defines the powers and responsibilities of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in the Internet Age, especially in spectrum management, setting and enforcing performance standards, and overseeing interconnection,” the committee explained.

This, it emphasized, puts the NTC at the helm of pro-competition regulation that promotes, rather than stifles, innovative solutions to the country’s Internet access problem.

“Finally, the Open Access bill lays down the rights of data service end-users and the responsibilities of service providers to their customers. This will address long-standing consumer woes such as disappearing load credits of data plans, exorbitant and erroneous billing, and unresponsive customer service,” the panel said.

“We are pro-actively doing our part in bringing better Internet to the country. Our proposed policy reforms will put an end to slow and expensive Internet service, brought about mainly by the lack of competition in the market and outdated laws that have long served the interest of a few,” it said.

The Open Access bill, the ICT committee said, will “start a new era in Philippine Internet where real competition is the driving force behind the industry and consumer interest comes first.”

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