By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter
PLDT, Inc. on Tuesday said lawmakers should clarify the difference between data transmission players and telecommunications companies (telcos) under the proposed Open Access in Data Transmission Act.
The bill will “open the data transmission industry to data transmission participants who will be allowed to own and operate a network without obtaining a franchise, or a certificate of public convenience, or a provisional authority unlike the telcos,” said Marilyn A. Victorio-Aquino, PLDT’s corporate secretary and chief legal counsel, during the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting.
“When a data transmission industry player owns and operates a network, it will be allowed to compete for the scarce frequencies which are available to players like us,” she pointed out.
“When that happens, you ask yourselves, so what happens between the business of a data transmission player and the telcos when they can operate and own a network and they can compete [for] our frequency? There’s not much difference.”
House Bill No. 8910, also known as the Open Access in Data Transmission Act, hopes to promote fair and open competition by lowering barriers to entry for the telecommunications industry. It is expected to reduce the cost of internet services.
“So, why will they be treated differently? Why will they be allowed to operate and conduct business without obtaining a franchise and a certificate of public convenience and necessity? Both requirements are imposed on telcos, which somehow restrict our operations in such a way that these regulators subject us to. So, these are the questions that need to be asked in case this bill is reintroduced in the new Congress,” Ms. Victorio-Aquino also said.
The bill was approved by the House of Representatives on July 28 last year and received by the Senate the following day.
The bill is among the measures that local business groups and foreign chambers have asked the 18th Congress to pass in its remaining session days.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) supports the bill, as it “mandates interconnection among data transmission participants to avoid dominance by a single player or by a group of data providers.”
“The bill also mandates that there should be at least two providers at any given layer,” it said in a statement.
Under the bill, the DICT, together with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), is “mandated to promulgate policies, rules and regulation to ensure and promote infrastructure sharing and co-location,” the department noted.
At the same time, the NTC is mandated to “maximize the utilization of radio spectrum resources by ensuring that spectrum is made available for the use of all registered data transmission industry participants.”
“The agency is also tasked to require all data transmission industry participants and public telecommunication entities providing data transmission services to comply with the prescribed performance standards,” it added.
Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.