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Nationwide consultations on internet connections sought

December 29, 2010 4:29pm
A militant consumer group on Wednesday demanded that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) conduct a public hearing on minimum speeds of broadband Internet connections.

TXTPower scored the NTC's hearing on the matter last Dec. 21, saying the agency did not adequately inform the public and thus gave telecommunications companies the first crack at the issue.

"We demand that the NTC hold a nationwide series of public consultations on the issue of broadband internet connections. Failure to deliver promised services, failure to address customer complaints, failure to compensate customers for poor or botched services, the imposition of long contracts and so-called termination fees are hallmarks of the telcos when it comes to broadband internet connections," TXTPower president Tonyo Cruz said on the group's website.

"We are sure that consumers nationwide will look forward to attending such consultations and tell the NTC what the so-called regulator should be doing," he added.

Cruz said Memorandum-Circular 12-19-2004, which the NTC seeks to reinforce, is outdated and thus must be updated to keep with changing times and fast-paced developments in broadband internet technology.

He said that the NTC has failed to follow the lead of telecom regulators worldwide in defining broadband internet, whether delivered via dial-up, wired or wireless connections.

For example, he explained that in the United States, "basic broadband" is defined as having a download rate of at least 4 Mbps and an upload rate of 1 Mbps.

Worldwide, the trend is to consistently raise the basic minimum, he added.

"Without such a definition, the NTC leaves telcos practically free to hoodwink end-users, including business and the government, regarding broadband internet services, the cost and pricing, and to keep Philippine internet access among the slowest and most expensive in the region. At the same time, we cannot begin to estimate the amount of access fees charged or practically extorted by telcos for undelivered, under-delivered or poor services," he said.

He also said that TXTPower learned in previous Senate hearings that the NTC has sufficient lawful powers to initiate and implement reforms and to issue rules to telcos.

"So we do not wish to hear alibis that this regulating agency could only do so much," he said.

TXTPower called on all Filipino texters and netizens to flood the social web with calls for improvement by using the hashtag #betterinternet, to follow their Twitter account (@txtpower), and to prepare for upcoming NTC consultations in 2011.

For its part, the NTC assured the public that it is trying to hold consumers' best interests in mind and will schedule another round of public discussions as soon as possible in January.

"We are definitely going to have another public consultation in January, after the Christmas break, so that more people can attend," NTC Common Carriers Authorization Department Director Edgardo Cabarios told GMANews.TV in an interview. — TJD, GMANews.TV
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