Transcript of Sen. Bam Aquino’s Interview after the Internet Hearing

Q: Is NTC capable of ensuring na mabilis ang Internet?

 A: Si Commissioner Corboda, said it for the record, currently, wala silang kapangyarihan na i-dictate ang presyo pero nasa kanilang poder na mag-set ng mga minimum standards. Ito ang hinahanap natin sa susunod na hearing and they’re coming up with the memorandum circular on the matter.

Sabi ko naman hindi puwede na ang stated rate, o ang napapangakong rate at iyong minimum standard mo napakalayo, kailangan naman may batayan pa rin iyon.

So they’ll come up with suggestions, one is iyong possible amendments sa RA 7925. Napag-usapan din kung dapat bang gawing basic service ang Internet service kasi sa ngayon, value-added service lang siya.

Pangatlo, napag-usapan din kung paano maabot ang hard-to-reach areas. DOST has a current pilot using iyong frequency ng TV o tinatawag na white space project. There’s already a pilot in Bohol at iyong pilot sa Bohol ay doon sa mga palaisdaan.

In that area, using the white space frequency, 12 megabytes per second iyong speed nila. Kung tutuusin mas mabilis pa ang white space project na ginagawa ng DOST kaysa doon sa ibang lugar dito sa Metro Manila.

We’re also trying to explore if DOST needs more support para maikalat ang white space project nila para maabot ang far-flung areas.

For the next hearing, pag-uusapan din naming ang Open Access Bill. This is a bill which will help telcos put up more infrastructure. Kasi marami rin sa kanila may mga complaints na pagdating sa local government unit or even mga barangay, hindi rin ganoon kadali para makapagpatayo ng cell sites.

In the end, ang tao din ang nagsa-suffer kasi pangit ang services natin.

In the meantime, we’re waiting for the recommendations of NTC sa Republic Act 7925, sa memorandum circular on minimum speed ng ating telcos.

DOJ is also coming out with a memorandum circular stating na iyong advertisements ng ating telcos, kailangan ding mas malinaw para sa mamamayan natin.

May mga advertisement na nagsasabing unlimited pero hindi naman pala unlimited. Dapat hindi na iyon payagan.  DOJ will step in along with DTI to make sure that consumer complaints are also met.

 

Q: Malaking bagay ba kung magagawa bang basic service ang Internet connection sa speed at presyo?

 A: If it becomes a basic service, then government has all the powers to actually regulate it. Currently kasi, dahil commercial transaction ito, walang kapangyarihan ang gobyerno para mag-set ng presyo.

But I will have to admit, this would not happen if we experienced good experience pagdating sa ating Internet.  Sabi ko nga kanina, kung maganda ang serbisyo natin, mura, mataas ang kalidad at regular iyong kalidad ng ating Internet, we wouldn’t be having this hearing. Hindi pa mapag-uusapan na gawing basic service ang Internet.

At this point, I think government really needs to step in. Whether it’s getting all players to agree to IP peering, proposing minimum standards to protect our consumers or even just to make sure na ang far-flung areas natin ay mayroon pa ring Internet service.

It’s time government steps in.  It’s budget season now, kung kinakailangang maglaan ng pera ang gobyerno para ma-improve ito. Palagay ko dapat napag-uusapan na natin o napa-plano na natin iyan.

 

Q: Kanina nabanggit niyo doon sa mga ads na maximum usually ang nababanggit, iyong minimum hindi masyado.

A: Actually, magandang clarification nga ni Undersecretary Dimagiba, is that, kahit na may fine print iyan, iyong may asterisk tapos napakaliit na sulat diyan, iyong dahilan pa rin ng consumer complaint is of course the stated number, iyong ‘up to.’

So we’re asking the telcos to state very clearly kung ano ba ang pangako natin sa taumbayan. Ang ‘up to’ kasi, kung iyong ‘up to’ mo naman, ilang oras lang sa isang araw. Ang hirap rin kung iyon ang ina-advertise natin. We should advertise what is our assured speed and people should be paying on the assured speed and not based on ‘up to’, especially kung ilang oras lang sa isang araw mo makukuha iyon.

 

Q: Pumayag ba ang telcos?

A: They agreed and they nodded. For the record, nag-nod sila babaguhin nila ang advertisement. In fact one of the telcos mentioned that they’ll be doing away with the unlimited advertisement and state already kung anong volume ang puwedeng makuha based on your plan or based on what you paid for.

I think that’s an improvement. At least, in that sense, mas malinaw sa taumbayan na malinaw ang kanyang binabayaran at kung ano ang nakukuha niya.

 

Q: Kailan po magiging totoo ang ads nila?

A: Soon daw. Soon they won’t have a choice once DOJ comes out with the circular, they have to follow.

I’m hoping na unahan na nila ang circular ng DOJ at baguhin na nila ang ads. I also mentioned to them na tina-track naming ang ads, may ilang ok na at may ilan pa ring vague.

I got their commitment earlier na babaguhin nila ang kanilang practices.

 

Q: Pagdating sa IP peering?

A: Kailangang pag-usapan na natin iyan. I think at this point, NTC wants to bring in the players. I support that but at the end of the day kasi, if it’s a commercial transaction and not regulated by government, wala kang kapangyarihan na sabihin sa isang grupo na libre na iyan ah.

So, the question is, do we provide the right powers to the NTC so that they can do that. One, which might mean amendments to the law, or two, we come up with an agreement among stakeholders, which I hope is the better solution, so we can push for IP peering among local players.

At the end of the day, ang pinaka-objective naman ng IP peering is all local content, keep it local. Para at last iyong local content natin, di hamak na mas mabilis ang pagtanggap sa ating devices.

 

Q:  Can the government demand it to be mandatory?

A: If we amend RA 7925 and make Internet a basic service, then government will have the power to say that this has to be mandatory. Currently, it’s voluntary at sinasabi ng ibang telco, is that we’re ok with IP peering but we will charge.

To be frank, ako I’m fine with that but we charge the right rates. Kasi what the small ISPs are saying, ang taas ng charge ninyo, hindi naman ma-justify.

Right now, the NTC will try to bring all stakeholders together and hopefully, through these hearings and through meetings, pag-uusapan if they’re gonna stick to kung kailangang mag-charge, at least have a rate that’s acceptable to all. In fairness naman, meron naman silang investment doon.

The other extreme is i-amend mo iyong batas, gawin mong basic service ang Internet, and then have government step in and already regulate the sector, which, again is the extreme example.

The fastest example is just to get all the players to agree, ano ba iyong pinakamagandang patakaran between all of us.

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