NTC directs telcos, ISPs to submit business continuity plans

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The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has directed telecommunication companies, as well as Internet service providers (ISPs), to submit a Business Continuity Plan detailing measures taken to ensure uninterrupted service and to address the increased demand for ICT services.

The order aims to boost efforts at maintaining the operation of vital ICT services and supporting infostructure with the extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) until the end of April 2020 to manage the Covid-19 threat.

“For the duration of the ECQ, telecommunications play a key role as many businesses shift from traditional operations to work-from-home arrangements for health and safety concerns,” according to the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) which has administrative supervision on the NTC.

The DICT earlier directed the NTC to ensure that mobile network operators and ISPs are able to continue providing reliable services through sufficient bandwidth allocation.

The reports on the Business Continuity Plans are expected to be submitted to the NTC on or before April 17, 2020.

However, an official of an ICT advocacy group said requiring the submission of the continuity plan is a good move but is rather useless because the government has not yet set the minimum standards for quality of service.

“It is unreasonable to demand performance standards for crisis situations when you have not demanded performance standards for normal, business-as-usual state,” said Democracy.Net.PH co-founder Pierre Tito Galla in a Facebook post.

Secondly, Galla said it is “myopic to demand” for the NTC to demand business continuity reports from small ISPs unless the Open Access in Data Transmission Act is passed which would have allowed them to compete on a higher level.

“This is another unreasonable demand. Due to their small sizes and their scales, at present small ISPs cannot be expected to be able to spend for redundancy. I don’t know if you are aware, but you have to spend for redundancy, and in our current market of limited players redundancy is at present expensive,” he stated.

Galla said submitting the business continuity plans will not ensure uninterrupted service and will only add paper clutter in the NTC if the agency will not do “something that’s of real value”.

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