Thursday, February 24, 2011

Improving Broadband Internet In The Philippines

The I.T. Journalists Association of the Philippines (CyberPress) organized its first forum for 2011 entitled "Improving Broadband Internet in the Philippines" and the event was held at Meridian International College, 2/F, PCCI Building, Campus Avenue, Mckinley Hill, The Fort, Taguig City last Tuesday AM, February 22, 2011. The CyberPress Forum tackled the issue of the telco-proposed bandwidth cap on broadband Internet which was scrapped in NTC’s draft memorandum circular after it caused quite a stir among Internet users in the Philippines, with consumers demanding better services from the telecommunications companies who happened to be also the Internet service providers (ISPs) in the country.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) represented by Dir. Edgardo Cabarrios in the forum, informed that the memorandum circular intended to have better Internet connections from ISPs is a work-in-progress. Regional consultations are scheduled to be held before finalizing the provisions of the circular.  Dir. Cabarrios said that NTC would seek to balance the interests of both the ISPs and the public in having fast and reliable access to the Internet.

Regarding the legislation required to make sure that the country would not be left behind on the emerging Internet technologies, Rep. Sigfrido Tinga, Chairman of the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology informed the body of the ongoing public consultations about proposed measures that would classify broadband Internet as a utility instead of being just a value-added service as it is now. Once classified as a utility, broadband Internet service could then be properly regulated in accordance to what the law would provide in order to have better Internet connections throughout the country.

The consumer sector was represented in the forum by TXTPower, an organization of cellphone users that aims to empower Filipinos both as consumers and as citizens. and I-Café Pilipinas, the umbrella organization of the internet café industry in the country. Both organizations expressed their opposition to bandwidth cap as a way to improve the broadband service in the country. Aside from non-delivery of promised speed, the issues of lock-in periods and rebates for days without connection were also aired in the forum.

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