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Gatchalian: Reform telco sector to fix dismal PH internet service

PASAY CITY, Philippines – Senator Win Gatchalian uses his smartphone at his Senate office, 15 May 2017. The Senate Committee on Economic Affairs chairman has stressed anew stronger government regulation and genuine competition will help improve telco services in the country. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Senator Win Gatchalian has reiterated the need to implement wide-ranging reforms in the telecommunications industry to make Internet service in the country at par with international standards.

Gatchalian stressed that stronger government regulation and genuine competition among stakeholders, plus technical innovation, will streamline the industry and improve corporate services.

“The poor Internet connection in our country is really frustrating. It has resulted in long delays in government processes and a slowdown in the delivery of services, to the detriment of the Filipino people. This highlights the need for the Senate to fast-track the approval of bills seeking to improve telecommunication services in the country,” said Gatchalian, who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs.

He likewise said that, “it is disheartening to read reports indicating that Internet services in the country has gone from bad to worse despite technological advancements in the telecoms industry.”

The senator was referring to the latest ‘State of the Internet’ report for the fourth quarter of 2016 as released by Akamai, the global leader in content delivery network services. The Philippines ranked last among 15 Asian Pacific countries and 108th in the world in the last three months of 2016, with Internet speeds averaging 4.5 Mbps in the 4th quarter. India has overtaken the Philippines, with Internet speed averaging at 5.6 Mbps.

Gatchalian has sponsored on the Senate floor wide-ranging reforms on the telecommunications industry, aimed at bolstering government regulation and breaking the duopoly of Globe and Smart over the public spectrum and opening the telecommunications sector to potential investors.

He has sought to strengthen the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) by giving it fiscal economy and its commissioners, a fixed term of office to reinforce its independence and to allow it to break out from the influence and control of big industry players.

He has likewise proposed that the government overhaul its spectrum allocation system and impose clear service standards as a condition for the continued use of the allocated spectrum of telecommunication companies,

Gatchalian also said the NTC should set specific durations for spectrum use to stop Globe and Smart from further monopolizing the use of the spectrum.

“The NTC should start using an iron fist to better regulate the industry. It will remain helpless against abusive stakeholders if it is not granted sufficient powers to control and discipline erring companies,” Gatchalian stressed.