A CONSUMER group scored the Philippine Competition Commission for dwelling on issues that do not address the immediate improvement of internet services in the country by using the much-needed frequencies that have long been denied to the Filipino people.
The consumer group Internet Surfers Guild of the Philippines said the initial findings of the Mergers and Acquisition Office of the Philippine Competition Commission on the P70-billion deal among PLDT, Globe Telecom and San Miguel Corp. are anti-consumer.
ISGP lead convenor professor Ramon Jose said that the 16-page preliminary statement of concerns released by MAO do not address the immediate improvement of internet services.
Jose said that both PLDT and Globe were given a deadline by the National Telecommunications Commission to improve their internet services as a condition for the approval of the deal and co-use of the 700MHz and 2600MHz frequencies.
“The government and the public will hold these telcos accountable if they fail to deliver within the given time frame. However, seeing that the PCC is hampering the telcos from using these frequencies, all the more the dream of having high speed internet will remain just a dream,” Jose said.
ISGP said the the role of PCC to look into the welfare of consumers and businesses must be recognized but they must not treat the SMC deal as an ordinary anti-competition case because of a bigger underlying concern which impacts consumers today—slow internet.
“The PCC must put in mind the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte which is the immediate improvement of internet services,” he added.
Jose stressed that the telecommunications sector should not be treated as an ordinary consumer industry like many of the anti-competition cases because of its utility function.
“The delivery of efficient telecommunications services to the public such as a faster internet connection must not be hampered especially in today’s digital economy,” he said.
Historically, the country’s telecommunications sector has been the most neglected industry in terms of regulation and legislation, according to Jose.
“The only governing law on telecommunications, RA7925 or the Public Telecommunications Policy Act, was ratified way back in 1994 when internet was still in its infancy stage,” he said.
Compared to other countries that ranked high in the global internet connectivity speed index whether it is from Akamai or Ookla for fixed line internet or Open Signal for mobile internet, the Philippines is the only country without government support for national broadband investment and infrastructure.
“The different government institutions including the PCC must get their act together and do what the president said. The impact of slow internet is not only about the bad experience of ordinary Filipino consumers but the image of the country as well which could turn off potential foreign investors and deny more Filipinos of jobs,” Jose said.
ISGP emphasized that the sheer magnitude of the issue of slow internet has gone beyond the usual poor customer service of the telcos and ISPs.
“An outdated telecommunications law and the absence of a national broadband policy should be recognized as the real problems which caused the slow internet in this country. Fix these two first and the other problems such as regulation, LGUs and others will follow,” Jose stressed.
The ISGP is an ICT Advocacy Group composed of college professors, BPO employees and even students who call for the immediate improvement of the state of internet in the country. Jose said that the members of ISGP are those who use the internet for their jobs and use social media to express themselves.