Telecommunications

Crowdsourcing: The Story of the Drafting of the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom

Update: The Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom (MCPIF) has been refiled for the 16th Congress.
PHNetDems statement when Senator Santiago filed the MCPIF in the Senate as Senate Bill No. 53
Statement of PHNetDems when Representative Kimi Cojuangco filed the MCPIF in the House of Representatives as House Bill 1086.

SBN3327 Screencap

This is the story of how six ordinary, tech- and internet-savvy citizens, over three hundred online onlookers on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Docs, and a number of their politically-connected friends brought the dream of a Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom to the august halls of the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines, and found in Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago a champion for civil and political rights in cyberspace.

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Santiago Files Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, principal sponsor of SBN 3327

(Update 14 Nov 2012: SBN 3327 official PDF from Senate official website embedded below.)

Constitutional rights shall not be diluted in the Information Age.

This is the guarantee sought to be galvanized by Senate Bill 3327, filed on November 12, 2012, by the eminent constitutionalist and international law expert Senator Miriam-Defensor Santiago. In what is a first in Philippine legislative history, the provisions of the bill authored by Senator Santiago draw directly upon the suggestions of Filipino netizens solicited through online “crowdsourcing”. The proposed measure seeks to address not only the protection of  but also the establishment of the rights of Internet users in the Philippines. Also, guided by the expert knowledge of the diverse set of IT and legal specialists who advised on the bill, SBN 3327 seeks to establish a sensible, fact-oriented and balanced environment that defends Filipinos against against cybercrimes and cyberattacks.

Senate Bill 3327 is titled, appropriately enough, “An Act Establishing a Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom, Cybercrime Prevention and Law Enforcement, Cyberdefense and National Cybersecurity.” Also known as the MCPIF to the netizens whose views helped shape the Bill, the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom is anchored on:

a. Rights
The MCPIF protects the civil and political rights of Filipinos, recognizing and asserting our guaranteed constitutional rights in cyberspace. Economic rights and consumer rights, especially as affected by the use of the Internet and information and communications technology (ICT), are also promoted and upheld.

b. Governance
The MCPIF promotes ICT in governance, translating into an empowered citizenry, a more efficient and responsive government, and more effective use and distribution of resources.

c. Development
The MCPIF provides government agencies with the mandate and the means to harness ICT for national development, thus promoting Philippine economic growth and ensuring Filipinos remain competitive in the information age.

d. Security
The MCPIF prepares Philippine law enforcement agencies and the armed forces for the current and emerging security challenges of the information age. It equips law enforcement with the capability to prevent, detect, and respond to cybercrime. With bolstered national defense and intelligence capabilities made possible through the MCPIF, the Philippines will be able to protect its critical infrastructure, reducing its vulnerability to attacks by cyber-terrorists and rogue or enemy states.

SBN 3327 has been referred to the Committee on Science and Technology for deliberations. It is expected that in the same spirit that animated the crafting of the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom, legislative deliberations will be enhanced by the active participation of the citizens online, and the other ICT stakeholders. The Internet has facilitated an unexpected next step in participatory democracy, and the forthcoming legislative process will harness that power.

SBN 3327 – An Act Establishing a Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom, Cybercrime Prevention and Law Enforcement, and Cyberdefense and National Cybersecurity

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(Photo credit: Senate official website, http://www.senate.gov.ph/)

(PDF credit: Senate official website, http://www.senate.gov.ph/)

Ampaw: The Flawed NTC Memorandum Order on Minimum Speed of Broadband Connections

NTC MO 07-07-2011 is a paper tiger

Author’s Note: The full text of the National Telecommunications Commission Memorandum Order No. 07-07-2011 (Minimum Speed of Broadband Connections) was provided via email as an Adobe PDF file, in response to a request for the document.

To the best of the author’s knowledge, NTC MO 07-07-2011 has not yet been published in any newspaper of national circulation.

A sop to Filipino consumers, conceived with no regard to objective realities, and written in a lazy fashion — that, very politely, describes the NTC MO No. 07-07-2011. Not quite unlike a speech given by a traditional politician, it is prefaced by a long-winded introduction and followed by a weak policy.

To be fair, let’s begin our analysis by parsing the strengths of NTC MO 07-07-2011.

First, NTC MO 07-07-2011 requires internet service providers to be transparent in the billing of their subscribers, via Rules 1 and 2 of the order. Transparency is good for us consumers; we’ll know exactly what it is we are paying for.

Second, NTC MO 07-07-2011 requires internet service providers to be provide a minimum service reliability for their subscribers, via Rule 1. Instead of not being certain of getting what we’re paying for, the minimum service reliability ensures that we’re going to get it. In fairness to the ISPs and the NTC, a minimum service reliability of 80% is not too bad, considering the state of telecommunications infrastructure in the Philippines.

Third, NTC MO 07-07-2011 provides internet service providers good flexibility towards developing competition strategies, via Rule 1. By allowing internet service providers to offer the public various packages and prices, the ISP with the most aggressive, the most reliable, and the best-priced packages wins the market.

All that said, and despite the best of intentions, NTC MO 07-07-2011 is useless to us consumers and does nothing concrete to require good service from ISPs. Why?

First, NTC MO 07-07-2011 does not provide effectively for short-term prepaid internet connectivity. With service reliability measured on a monthly basis, prepaid internet subscriptions lasting one day, three days, or a week can easily meet 80% service reliability on paper, with the customer not enjoying the connectivity he has paid for. For instance, should a customer use a 3-day prepaid card and not be connected, his complaint will be easily dismissed once the ISP shows that he could have been connected on the other 27 days of the month, with the ISP meeting a service reliability of 90%.

Considering how much of the broadband market floats on prepaid services, that segment of the consuming public is going to continue to get screwed.

Second, NTC MO 07-07-2011 does not specify where service reliability is to be measured, instead of protecting the consumer by requiring service reliability to be measured at the subscriber end. As such, the internet service provider can very well claim to be meeting 80% service reliability or even higher, by measuring reliability at their end of the transmission medium.

This, despite at his end the consumer keeps on getting “Unable to connect to the Internet” error messages on his browser.

Third, NTC MO 07-07-2011 is silent on data volume capping. Thus, the MO allows for unreasonable data volume capping.

Therefore, a consumer with consistent 1 Mbps connection speeds can have his connection cut off every three days by virtue of a 1 GB data volume cap, and the ISP will still be completely compliant with the memorandum order, for as long as the ISP has a provision on data volume capping in fine print somewhere in the service offer/ contract/ prepaid SIM wrapper.

Fourth, NTC MO 07-07-2011 does not require ISPs to provide clear, timely, and customer-centric rebate mechanisms for customers if service reliability minimums are not met. ISPs can very well still get paid for the services they do not provide, and getting rebates will still be as easy as pulling teeth from a rabid dog using longnose pliers.

Subscribers, therefore, can continue to get screwed under the guise of “ma’am, network maintenance po kasi, di po yan covered ng rebate”, “sir, kelangan complete po ang documents and proof of downtime, tapos wait po kayo ng thirty days tapos i-claim ninyo personally dito sa office namin yung tseke”, and whatnot.

To summarize bluntly the impact of NTC MO 07-07-2011 to internet service providers, compliance to NTC MO 07-07-2011 is as simple as ISPs rewording their boilerplate contracts and marketing collaterals and ensuring that 80% reliability or higher is measured at their end. NTC MO 07-07-2011 will merely require cosmetic changes and tweaks in marketing, rather than significant improvements in service.

To summarize bluntly the impact of NTC MO 07-07-2011 to us consumers, NTC MO 07-07-2011 provides us with absolutely nothing but a wad of used toilet paper.

It’s brilliant, really. This MO will be hailed as a victory for the consuming public, with the perception of the NTC being the white knight riding to the defense against the greedy invading ISPs. The reality, however, is that the NTC MO 07-07-2011 is no more an actual strike for Filipino empowerment than the sham that was the Battle of Manila and the surrender of the Spanish troops to the Americans.

Read the full text of NTC MO 07-07-2011 here. If you want to read a proposed draft of a better memorandum order, one that serves all parties fairly, read this one instead.

And to think we were led to believe that the NTC really does have our interests at heart and does its best to serve us. Bleh.

Image from The Pulse Review (www.pulsereview.com).

Full Text: NTC Memorandum Order No. 07-07-2011 (Minimum Speed of Broadband Connections)

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
COMMISSION ON INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

MEMORANDUM ORDER
No. 07-07-2011

SUBJECT: MINIMUM SPEED OF BROADBAND CONNECTIONS

WHEREAS, the 1987 Constitution fully recognizes the vital role of communications in nation building and provides for the emergence of communications structures suitable to the needs and aspirations of the nation;

WHEREAS, the promotion of competition in the telecommunications market is a key objective of Republic Act No. 7925 (RA7925, for brevity), otherwise known as The Public Telecommunications Policy Act of the Philippines, which mandates that “a healthy competitive environment shall be fostered, one in which telecommunications carriers are free to make business decisions and interact with one another in providing telecommunications services, with the end in view of encouraging their financial viability while maintaining affordable rates;

WHEREAS, RA7925 further defines the role of the government to “promote a fair, efficient and responsive market to stimulate growth and development of the telecommunications facilities and services”;

WHEREAS, RA7925 mandates the National Telecommunications Commission (Commission) to promote and protect the consumers of public telecommunications services;

WHEREAS, it has been observed that the service providers are offering broadband/ internet connections specifying only the maximum speed;

WHEREAS, customers/ subscribers/ users have the right to be informed of the quality of the broadband/ internet connection service being provided;

WHEREAS, fixed, fixed wireless and mobile broadband/ internet access differ in transmission characteristics;

WHEREAS, mobile broadband/ internet access suffer from signal fading more than fixed and fixed wireless broadband/ internet access;

NOW, THEREFORE, pursuant to RA7925, Executive Order (EO) No. 546 series of 1979, and in order to maintain and foster fair competition in the telecommunications industry, and promote and protect the rights of broadband service customers/ subscribers/ users, the National Telecommunications Commission (the Commission/ NTC, for brevity) hereby promulgates the following rules:

1. Broadband service providers shall specify the minimum broadband/ internet connection speed and service reliability and the service rates in their offers to consumers/ subscribers/ users in their advertisements, flyers, brochures and service agreements and service level agreements. The minimum service reliability shall be 80%.

Service Reliability is measured over a period of one (1) month and calculated as

[(Hours in a day x Days in a month) – (Time internet connection speed is below minimum)(Hours in a day x Days in a month)

The service offers shall specify the service rates for a minimum broadband/ internet connection speed and the service reliability. For example: a broadband service provider can offer PhP 900.00/month for 512 kbps minimum connection speed and 80% service reliability, or PhP 1,000.00/month for 512 kbps minimum connection speed and 85% service reliability, or PhP 1,000/month for 1 Mbps minimum connection speed and 80% reliability, etc.

2. The subscribers/ consumers shall be properly informed of the broadband/ internet connection service being offered to them.

3. Service providers offering committed information rate (CIR) shall comply with NTC MC No. 12-19-2004.

4. Failure on the part of a broadband service provider to comply with this Order, the Commission shall file appropriate administrative case against said broadband service provider.

5. Any circular, order, memoranda or parts thereof inconsistent herewith are deemed repealed or amended accordingly.

6. This Order shall take effect fifteen (15) days after publication in a newspaper of general circulation and three (3) certified true copies are furnished the UP Law Center.

Quezon City, Philippines, 15 July 2011

(signed)
Gamaliel A. Cordoba
Commissioner

(signed)
Carlos Jose A. Martinez
Deputy Commissioner

(signed)
Delilah F. Deles
Deputy Commissioner

NTC XI holds public consultation on Broadband Internet

The National Telecommunications Commission in Region XI held a public consultation on Broadband Internet, specifically on the Minimum Speed of Broadband Connections. Present durning the event were Ria Jose of Alleba Politics.

According to Ria Jose, the NTC revealed that it have the equipment to monitor broadband connections, but the commission will be utilizing statistical modeling since it can not monitor 24/7.

Globe Telecom service interruption in Visayas and Mindanao

Erwin Feliciano, Head Customer Contact Management for Globe Telecom announced that Globe Telecom experienced service interruption in select areas in Visayas and Mindanao.

The service interruption was due to a fiber cut.

Globe subscribers in the area may experience some difficulty sending text, phone calls, and using mobile Internet. The company is working to restore service and that they will inform their subscribers as soon as service is back to normal.

Source @ERWINofGLOBE

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Globe showcases 4G mobile broadband

Globe telecom demoed their implementation of faster broadband called, 4G mobile technology in 19 sites across Metro Manila. They speed tested their 4G implementation revealing a download speed of 8.55MBps. They compared it to their Globe Tattoo stick (2G), Globe SuperStick (3G), and their competitors. Globe also announced that they are going to exclusively offer Samsung Galaxy S2, which is their only 4G capable phone.

In a press release Peter Bithos, Globe’s Senior Advisor for Consumer Business said, “The increasing data usage is driving the need for more capacity. Since we are committed to providing quality services to our subscribers, we have proactively responded to the call by deploying new technologies that will upgrade and enhance their experience with us.”

Image credit: Courtesy, Globe Telecom