The Philippines’ telecoms industry watchdog, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), has announced that it will introduce new rules governing broadband internet connection speeds by early- to mid-August, once it has finalised its draft decision and taken feedback from the public and interested parties. Online journal BusinessWorld notes that the NTC is currently waiting on input from private sector operators and civic organisations regarding the memorandum circular (MC) it has published concerning broadband services. NTC director of regulations Edgardo R Cabarios noted that everyone with a vested interest is being given time to discuss the matter before ‘moving on’, noting that there are some contentious issues still in need of resolving. The draft MC stipulates that broadband will be classified as a data connection speed of at least 256kbps, but some argue that this figure should be much higher. For example, interactive media specialist Carlos Nazareno of the group Philippine Flash Actionscripters argues that 256kbps is little more than dial-up and as such is inadequate when dealing with the current size of Web pages (e.g. 2MB/3MB). This position has been supported by other key groups in the tech sector, including the Philippine Web Designers Organization, Game Developer’s Association of the Philippines, Philippine Game Development Community, and the Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance.
Nevertheless, the NTC is looking to address minimum speeds and the draft MC is seeking to establish formal monitoring and measuring of operators’ broadband speeds each month, including the time of the monitoring and the subscriber data plans, to ensure that end users are receiving the best possible service. Mr Cabarios also reiterated that broadband service in the Philippines will remain as a value added service (VAS), rather than be designated a ‘public utility’, saying that such a move would require a new law in statue to realise. VAS includes all non-voice services in the telecommunications industry.