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Fair use policy probe urged

THE House Independent Bloc has sought a congressional probe into the implementation and impact of the Fair Use Policy of telecommunication companies because of mounting consumer complaints.

In House Resolution 2344, one of the Bloc’s member, Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz stressed the need for Congress to investigate the so-called ‘Fair Use Policy’ of telcos which involve the scrapping of ‘unlimited’ marketing programs and capping a user’s Internet connection upon reaching a certain volume of data.

“Considering that the Asian region boasts of having the first and second fastest Internet speeds in the world, the latest survey shows that we are just a notch above Afghanistan, a war torn country, as the laggard among Asian countries in terms of internet speed—a dubious distinction which can be made even more damning with the implementation of the FUP,” De la Cruz said.

“Also, this policy may actually run counter to the avowed goals of the country’s telecommunications development plan including the ‘roll out’ commitments of the service providers and consigns us even further to the fringes of technological advancement thereby limiting our ambitions to reach developed country status soonest and ultimately depriving our people of the benefits of such advances and degrading their quality of life,” Dela Cruz added.

De la Cruz, in the resolution, asked the House committee on information and communications technology to assess the implementation and assess the impact of the FUP on Internet users in relation to the mandated ‘roll out’ of the country’s information and communications technology development plan.

In hindsight, De la Cruz of the Bloc led by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said as part of the country’s development plan, various sectors of the economy were opened up to competition and investments to enhance productivity, generate more employment and essentially enhance the quality of life of the people.

“The telecommunications industry is one of the first sectors who opened in response to the need for connectivity within the archipelago, to the world and the phenomenal growth in the use of various Information and Communication Technology platforms and instruments in promoting national development and citizens’ rights to information and free expression,” De la Cruz said.

As a result of such an initiative, the Bloc said the country adopted a long term information and communications technology development plan to accelerate the institutionalization of, among others, the development and regulatory framework conducive to the provision of fair, accessible and affordable ICT services; a sustained and measurable telecoms ‘roll out’ plan by the chosen service providers; and an incentives and sanctions regime imposable on both service providers and users, corporate or individual.

“In just a matter of time, the Philippines has become the ‘texting’ capital of the world and Filipinos in and out of the country, became one of the most active Internet users,” De la Cruz said.

De la Cruz said after the service providers were vetted and directed to ‘wire’ the entire country to connect it to the world in as fast, proper and affordable a manner as possible, the country has more than 100 million ICT users, as follows: PLDT Group with 72.5-million subscribers, composed of 24.7-million SMART subscribers, 31.9-million Talk N Text subscribers and Digitel/Sun Cellular with 15.8 million and a broadband subscriber base of 3.3 million.

Similarly, De la Cruz said, 36.5-million Globe subscribers composed of 34.5-million Globe and TM prepaid subscribers and 1.98-million post paid subscribers.

“Despite this unprecedented avalanche of ICT users we have yet to have a truly world class ICT service infrastructure as evidenced by our abysmal Internet speed described in most ICT trade magazines as ‘slow and so far behind’,” De la Cruz said. 

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