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Solon: Reclassify ‘Internet access’ as basic commodity

A lawmaker from Makati  yesterday urged the government to reclassify “Internet access” as a basic commodity.
According to Rep. Luis Jose Angel N. Campos Jr., doing so would give more teeth to regulators to compel telecommunications firms to provide higher connection speeds under pain of severe punitive fines.
At present, the Philippines has the slowest average Internet connection speed in Asia, according to Akamai Technologies Inc.
Under House Bill 5337, Campos wants Internet access tagged as a basic service so that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) may be empowered to regulate both the quality and the cost of the service.
The bill seeks to amend the 23-year-old Philippine Public Telecommunications Policy Law which treats Internet access as a “value-added service,” meaning  suppliers may provide the service on their own terms.
Meanwhile, Campos said  the country’s third telecommunications service provider could eventually have a “market value” of up to P300 billion.
“There is room for the new entrant to come in, simply because there is pent-up demand for faster mobile phone Internet connection speeds among Filipinos,” Campos, a deputy minority leader, said.
“This unusually strong demand is not being fully satisfied because neither of the two existing players is willing to supply the superior connection speeds at a lower price,” the lawmaker said.
Campos added P300 billion is around the range of the current market values of PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom Inc.
As of February 15, PLDT and Globe had market values of P336 billion and P240 billion, respectively, based on the closing prices of their common shares at the Philippine Stock Exchange.
Market value, or market capitalization in the case of publicly traded companies such as PLDT and Globe, refers to the price that the market is willing to pay for an asset.
Campos earlier had backed the government’s resolve to give preferential treatment to the third player, saying it is “absolutely justified” to drive market competition and give Filipinos access to faster and cheaper Internet connection speeds.
The new entrant is expected to be formed and named by the end of next month, according to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
Campos also welcomed the DICT’s plan to adopt a common tower policy.
“The idea is not new. In America, they actually have a large company engaged only in the business of owning and operating wireless and broadcast communications towers,” he pointed out.
He was referring to American Tower Corporation, a New York Stock Exchange-listed firm that belongs to the S&P 500 Index.
Common towers will work as long as these are run by an independent company, Campos said.


1 comment

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    Deana Lager Tuesday, 06 March 2018 14:34 Comment Link

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