Salceda seeks cheaper, more faster Internet

March 13, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 330 views

HOUSE Committee on Ways and Means Chairman and Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Sarte Salceda on Monday said he wants to accelerate Internet speeds and lower subscription costs in the country by reinstating faster permit approval provisions in the Bayanihan 2 Law.

“Internet service providers reduced prices between 2020 and 2022, with the fastest reduction being in fiber. What happened was simple. The most significant state action for telcos over this period was the Bayanihan 2 law, which temporarily suspended requirements for telecommunications infrastructure (Section 4, (ii) (1)) and streamlined regulatory requirements,” said Salceda, the principal author of the Faster Internet Act or House Bill (HB) No. 661, said.

Estimates suggest that the median Internet download speed in the country improved by as much as 36 Mbps. Prices also declined by P500 to P1,000 per month for broadband with a median Internet speed.

“In this country, we rarely do something that works this well. We should keep doing it,” Salceda added during the technical working group meeting organized by the House Committee on Information and Communication Technology to consolidate bills similar to Salceda’s proposal.

Under Salceda’s bill, Internet service providers (ISPs) are mandated to advertise only speeds they can deliver within at least 80% of the time. There are also provisions for the measurement and publication of Internet quality of service.

There are also authorized powers of the President to streamline regulatory processes. It also articulates the rights of end users as well as penalties for failure to deliver minimum standards.

During the meeting, however, Salceda requested that three other amendments be included.

First, Salceda requested the inclusion of a provision that all applications for telecommunications infrastructure will be approved within seven days or otherwise deemed approved.

Second, the President “may suspend the requirement of any national or local permit or clearance in the construction, installation, repair, operation and maintenance of telecommunications and Internet infrastructure.”

Finally, Salceda wants a provision that “No court, except the Supreme Court, shall issue any temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction or preliminary mandatory injunction against the construction of telecommunications infrastructure, including cell sites and cell towers.”

“Internet access is the new land reform of this country. Without Internet access, your efforts to grow as an economy are hamstrung, and your rural communities are unable to participate in the fruits of the digital, global age,” he said.

“And, with BPOs and online freelancers being the lifeblood of many local economies, as well as the lifeline of many families, faster and cheaper Internet is an existential matter for the Philippine economy,” Salceda added.