DICT backs bills for universal connectivity

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has asked Congress to prioritize the passage of two legislative proposals in support of the Marcos administration’s push for universal connectivity.

In an interview with reporters, Information Secretary Ivan John Uy said they are pushing for the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 329 or the Better Internet Act filed by Sen. Grace Poe.

Uy said the DICT is backing the bill requiring telco providers to comply with a minimum download speed to make sure consumers get what they pay for in internet service.

“That’s the usual complaint that we get from the public, that telco firms give them internet speed of up to this. That keyword is ‘up to’ and it is very open [for interpretation]. If an internet package says up to 50 Mbps, then you can just get 50 Kbps. I think our lawmakers are already on top of that,” Uy said.

“I think we should [support this measure]. If subscribers pay right and on time and their internet providers are quick to charge them, then these telco firms should be fast as well in providing the service that we deserve,” he said.

Under SB 329, telco providers should cover all unserved and underserved areas within three years from the passage of the bill.

Though voluntary, the measure also encourages internet providers to raise the download speed of their services, except for free ones set up in public spaces.

Based on Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index, mobile internet speed in the Philippines improved to 21.41 Mbps in June from 19.26 Mbps in May while fixed broadband speed rose by 15 percent to 68.94 Mbps from 60.09 Mbps during the same period.

Also, the DICT is supporting a bill refiled by Isabela Rep. Faustino Dy V that seeks to direct property developers to allot telco space for network infrastructure in their projects. The bill aims to amend Presidential Decree 957 to include connectivity facilities in the list of infrastructure that can be built in open spaces of subdivisions.

Uy said the legislation should also cover high-rise buildings to require the provision not only for electricity, water and sewerage, but also for telco. In doing this, property builders will be mandated to make sure users can access telco services wherever they may be in a building.

“[It] should already have at least the telco lines available there in the same way that they require electricity and water. That way, you will have a seamless connection. You won’t have instances where when you go inside the elevator, then you have no signal,” Uy said.

“You go to the parking underground, you have no signal. Those buildings were never designed for the telco facility there, but I think it should be included from the very onset. When you design the building, it should be integrated there,” he added.

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