The National Telecommunications Commission, which regulates telecommunications in the Philippines began hearings on regulating Internet in the country. Their draft memorandum called, “Minimum Broadband Speed,” and with the NTC determining that they are removing the broadband cap from the draft memorandum order, now the telecommunications industry has shifted its strategy to defining that broadband is a “value added service.” Clearly there is a need to define what broadband is, and how it affects the economy, and how to leverage the Internet for the future.
The telecommunications companies have taken the position that Internet is a value added service. Meaning this is not standard offering. And they continue to have the position,
“Requiring the providers of such service specify their minimum connection speed, service reliability, service level and service rates would amount to regulating the same,” said the Philippine Chamber of Telecommunications Operators (PCTO) in its position paper uploaded in the NTC Web site on Friday.
“In keeping with broadband access services’ true character as value-added service, we respectfully submit that broadband service providers be allowed to retain present setup where no minimum service standard is required,” the group said.
From a business and technological standpoint, the telecommunications operators are out of touch with reality. This group the telecommunications companies have formed seem to act more as a collusion between them than the free market forces they claim to subscribe to.
This is zealous autoconfig on the part of Philippine telcos.
The world over, Broadband is seen as an enabler similar to how roads, railways and electricity has historically been seen in that position.
Broadband is not and cannot be characterized as value added because it is fast becoming the telecom industry’s bread and cheese. Data is fast becoming the norm. Looking at CES 2011, everything is data driven. Television is downloading content; Tablets are communicating wirelessly. The telephone lines and the cable lines of the telecom providers are no longer used as voice communication lines, they are used to broadcast and receive information in the same way our airwaves are used by television and radio.
Broadband is no longer fringe, it is the norm.
In Building broadband: strategies and policies for the developing world, it suggests that “countries with successful broadband markets typically also had vigorous competition among various networks as well as among service providers.”
It is clear that the position of the telecom industry is that there is limited competition amongst the providers. As such, this is simply no longer just an issue with the NTC, in fact, the nature of commerce and trade, of which broadband creates an impact in demands that the Department of Trade and Industry become part of the equation. I urge too, that the President actively use the country’s embassies to play matchmaker with local businesses and telecommunication providers to step in and create greater competition.
As I have noted in my open letter to both the Congress and the President, our legislature must look into the Telecommunications Law, and see if the NTC does have teeth in dealing with today’s and tomorrow’s broadband. I urge the Palace and its Allies in Congress to put this on the agenda as it does affect the economy. It is becoming clearer by the day that there needs to be better competition in the telecom industry. The issue of Broadband is not simply a regulatory issue, it is an economic and trade debate.
Comic “zealous autoconfig,” by XKCD, some rights reserved.