NTC unveils ‘pro-competition’ policy document

22 Dec 2005

The Filipino telecoms watchdog, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has published a 32-page consultation document on its website, detailing its aims to foster competition in the converging telecoms and ITS markets. The policy document sets out a wide ranging list of regulatory policies which it believes will be conducive to the development of the country’s communications industry. In particular, the consultation sets out to redress the inadequacies of existing legislation in the wake of technological innovations such as VoIP, and deal with imbalances in the regulatory environment which give an unfair advantage to dominant players, such as PLDT. The NTC says it will look at the ‘unchecked behaviours’ carried out by the main protagonists such as predatory pricing, vertical price squeezing, and other unfair practices that have killed or reduced competition.

The regulator has once again raised the issue of local loop unbundling, first discussed in 2000, and highlights the need to introduce new rules to curtail dominant carriers’ control over the last mile. ‘Without an unbundling mandate that would open access to VAS providers to carrier networks, there is a risk that the VoIP rules [the NTC implements] will only be rendered inutile’, a spokesman said. The NTC also proposes the impose stricter regulations on dominant players versus non-dominant ones, in line with regulatory practices carried out in regional markets and in the European Union. Such measures could include a different pricing regulation that would force operators with significant market power to seek approval from the NTC for any discount or pricing promotion. Smaller operators, on the other hand, would only be required to give the authority advanced notice.