PLDT balks at Open Access proposal to open broadband market to more players

15 Jun 2022

PLDT Inc. has reportedly expressed reservations over House Bill 8910, or the Open Access in Data Transmission Act, which sets out to remove barriers to entry for ISPs wishing to compete in the local broadband market, allow faster and more cost-efficient installation of broadband facilities, and lower internet costs across the country.

At the telco’s annual stockholder’s meeting this week, Marilyn A Victorio-Aquino, PLDT’s corporate secretary and chief legal counsel, sought clarification from the government on the difference between data transmission players and telcos, under the proposed Act, arguing that as it stands, the measure ‘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.’ The official went on to say: ‘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’ adding, ‘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.’

The Open Access in Data Transmission Act was originally published in July 2019 as House Bill No. 0057, before becoming House Bill 8910 in March 2021. It was approved by the House of Representatives on 28 July 2021 and passed to the Senate on 29 July. The Bill is one of the measures that its backers and local businesses hope the 18th Congress will pass in its remaining session days. It has the support of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) which says it ‘mandates interconnection among data transmission participants to avoid dominance by a single player or by a group of data providers [and] also mandates that there should be at least two providers at any given layer.’