Monday, April 15, 2024

Civil society groups call for passage of Open Access in Internet Services bill

On July 5, Better Internet PH together with nine organizations representing the business sector, ICT industry, and civil society signed a Joint Statement of Support for the immediate passage of the proposed Open Access in Internet Services Act.

Representatives from Democracy.net.ph, Employers Confederation of the Philippines, Fintech Alliance.Ph, Foundation for Media Alternatives, Internet Society-Philippines Chapter, National ICT Confederation of the Philippines, Philippine Cable and Telecommunications Association Inc., Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. gathered to restate their call to introduce a law especially designed for digital connectivity.

The joint statement highlighted Open Access as a “curative law” that will address legal obstacles to the propagation of Internet connectivity. The bill seeks to (1) lower barriers to entry for Internet network operators through a simplified registration process; and (2) fastrack the deployment of broadband infrastructure.

The event also featured an explanatory video for the proposed law, which highlighted the connectivity challenges in the Philippines and why the Open Access bill is a viable solution.

Signatories to the joint statement have been pushing for the passage of the Open Access bill in various forums. Last year, the PCCI made it part of its 10 priority resolutions to see the Open Access bill passed into law.

The PCTA, in a recent Senate committee hearing, said that the Open Access bill will strengthen their efforts to expand network infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas.

By removing franchise requirements, “they (cable TV operators and small Internet service providers) can partner with others, or even form consortia, to build their own middle mile.”

Other stakeholders, such as the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines, have also recognized the importance of the proposal in expanding the country’s broadband infrastructure.

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