Sen. Grace Poe has refiled her bill seeking to require Internet service providers (ISPs) to widen their reach and establish a minimum and consistent Internet connection speed.
“The Internet has become a necessity as indispensable as electricity and water. We rely on it for health, education, business, governance and more,” Poe explained. “Service providers must pick up and maintain an acceptable Internet speed to boost connectivity across sectors and empower our people.”
Under the bill dubbed “Better Internet Act”, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) shall require all telcos and ISPs to extend and expand the service coverage of fixed and mobile Internet service in all unserved and underserved areas within three years from the effectivity of the measure.
The telcos and ISPs are also strongly encouraged to provide a higher Internet speed and deliver a minimum standard for connection speed to their subscribers. However, there shall be no required minimum Internet speed for free Internet service.
If passed into law, telcos and ISPs shall have three years to ensure that they provide no lower than the minimum required download speeds to their end-users.
The NTC shall enforce providers’ compliance on Internet speed, quality and consistency, as well as other coverage obligations to subscribers.
“[Telcos] and ISPs must meet the minimum standards on connection, reception, just pricing and billing practices to promote and protect the rights of consumers of Internet services,” the bill explained.
Those who cannot comply with the required Internet service standards shall be fined not less than P200,000 and not more than P2,000,000 for each count of violation. If a service provider’s yearly gross income is less than P10,000,000, the penalty is 1 percent to 2 percent of its annual gross income.
“Ensuring access to fast and affordable Internet connection is not only an option if we want our country and people to be competitive. It should be a priority,” Poe said.