PLDT has pressed the Philippines’ government to clarify how its proposed Open Access in Data Transmission Act will distinguish between telecom operators and data transmission players.
The proposed act aims to help ISPs enter the local broadband market by removing regulatory hurdles, promoting fair and open competition. The government claims that this will reduce internet prices by driving more cost-effective installation of broadband infrastructure.
However, at PLDT’s annual stockholder’s meeting, corporate secretary and chief legal counsel Marilyn A Victorio-Aquino argued that the act “will open the data transmission industry to data transmission participants who will be allowed to own and operate a network without obtaining a franchise, or a certificate of public convenience, or a provisional authority unlike the telcos.”
Victorio-Aquino further elaborated: “When a data transmission industry player owns and operates a network, it will be allowed to compete for the scarce frequencies which are available to players like us. When that happens, you ask yourselves, so what happens between the business of a data transmission player and the telcos when they can operate and own a network and they can compete [for] our frequency? There’s not much difference.”
“So, why will they be treated differently? Why will they be allowed to operate and conduct business without obtaining a franchise and a certificate of public convenience and necessity? Both requirements are imposed on telcos, which somehow restrict our operations in such a way that these regulators subject us to. So, these are the questions that need to be asked in case this bill is reintroduced in the new Congress,” she concluded.
CommsUpdate reports that the Open Access in Data Transmission Act was first published as House Bill No. 0057 in July 2019, although it was revised to become House Bill 8910 in March 2021. The House of Representatives approved the bill on 28th July 2021 and it passed to the Senate the following day.
Business World reports that the bill is one of the measures that local business groups and foreign chambers are pushing for the 18th Congress to pass in its remaining session days. The DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology) supports the bill on the grounds that it will ensure competition in the former duopoly.
In a statement, DICT said that the bill “mandates interconnection among data transmission participants to avoid dominance by a single player or by a group of data providers. The bill also mandates that there should be at least two providers at any given layer.”