Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Duterte signs EO liberalizing access to satellite-based Internet services

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte signed on Thursday, March 11, an executive order (EO) liberalizing access to satellite services, which can open opportunities for telecommunication companies to provide better Internet services and access nationwide.

EO 127 amends EO 467, which provides the policy guidelines and regulations concerning the operation and use of international satellite telco facilities and services in the country.

“The government recognizes that universal access to fast and reliable Internet services is vital in order for the country to join the ranks of developed economies due to the Internet’s transformative impact on e-government and the delivery of basic services, the elimination of red tape, freedom of information, disaster preparedness, public safety, readiness for climate change, education for all, and inclusive growth,” the EO read.

Under the order, telcos, value-added service (VAS) providers, and Internet service providers (ISPs) registered with the NTC will be allowed direct access to all satellite systems — whether fixed or mobile, international or domestic — to build and operate broadband facilities to offer Internet services.

Broadcast service providers may also be allowed to directly access satellite systems subject to NTC rules, regulations, and authorizations.

There used to be a franchise requirement in the access of international satellite systems.

EO 127 directs the NTC to update its regulations and expedite its administrative processes to enable VAS providers and ISPs to directly access, use, own, and operate facilities for Internet access service using satellite technologies such as Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs), Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN), and similar technologies, for all segments of the broadband network.

The new EO updates the definition of the term “direct access” to any of several measures permitting direct dealings between authorized entities and satellite system providers at specified levels as defined by NTC.

Direct access is used to refer to measures permitting direct dealings between authorized entities and international satellite system providers.

EO 127 also directs the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), in consultation with concerned agencies and sectors, to regularly review the responsiveness of the policy and submit recommendations to the Office of the President.

The now-defunct Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) used to be in charge of reviewing the responsiveness of the policy under EO 467.

The DOTC was split into the Department of Transportation and the DICT through Republic Act 10844 of 2015.

Also under the new EO, the DICT, in coordination with the NTC, shall issue the necessary rules and regulations for the implementation of the national policy for inclusive access to satellite services within 30 days from the issuance of the order. — Azer Parrocha (PNA)

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