Junking The Broadband Cap

The day before yesterday, I attended the public hearing conducted by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) regarding the improvement of Internet services in the country. The issue is embodied in the draft NTC memorandum order (MO) entitled Minimum Speed of Internet Connections where the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are instructed to offer their services at the minimum speed they could provide for a specific subscription plan and make sure that such speed of connection is available to their subscribers at eighty (80%) percent reliability.

While the draft memorandum order seems favorable to internet subscribers based on its stated objective, the public clamor against the MO is the insertion of a provision that says “Service providers may set the maximum volume of data allowed per subscriber/user per day.” The well-attended public hearing focused on this so-called “Broadband Cap” and after getting the positions of the concerned sectors, NTC decided to junk the said provision one day after the hearing. The commission said the cap on the amount of data that users can download would only hamper the industry’s growth.

The junking of the proposed broadband cap is good news for the internet users opposing such proposal of the ISPs. The question now is . . . will the issuance of the final memorandum order achieve the purpose of having a reliable and unlimited high-speed internet connection for the consuming public? We must take note that the ISPs say that providing internet connection is only a value-added service under our laws and as such it should not be regulated by the commission. They are also citing the “fair use” policy in our constitution as basis for implementing the broadband cap.

The drafting of the memorandum order on the minimum speed of internet connections is a work in progress. NTC promised to hold public hearings about the issue in the different regions of the country. They will also await for the position papers of the different stakeholders in the internet industry. In the meantime, we must continue our vigilance against the broadband cap.

By the way, the revised draft of the proposed MO also junk the provision on allowing the service providers to offer broadband/internet connection on a “best efforts” basis (Rule No. 2 in the old draft). You may refer to Draft MO_Minimum Speed of Broadband Connections for details.

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