‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
MANILA, Philippines—That unlimited Internet surfing promo from your cellphone service provider is not so limitless after all.
This “misleading” offer, along with slow and unreliable Internet services from telecommunications companies and Internet service providers (ISPs) should be investigated by Congress, according to Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate.
They have filed a resolution asking the House committee on information and communication technology to look into the matter, saying Congress must ensure the accessibility and quality of Internet services since the Internet has become an integral part of Filipinos’ lives.
According to them, telecommunications companies and ISPs have imposed a “data cap” that limits the volume of data one may access through their network. This means consumers could not enjoy full use of their Internet connection, they said.
They cited Globe Telecommunications as an example, pointing out that it offers one-day Internet access for prepaid subscribers, but imposes a 1 gigabyte maximum on accessed data without informing customers beforehand.
This data subscription is covered under Globe’s Fair Use policy. Globe, in its website, said the policy was “aligned with the global industry practice of telecommunications providers anywhere in the world and is subject to change without prior notice.”
The lawmakers quoted a “typical message” that Globe sends to unlimited mobile data subscribers who have reached the data cap.
The message states that customers on a data promo or plan who have exceeded 1 GB per day will experience 2G browsing speeds, meaning a slower speed, but only up to midnight. It says that the Fair Use Policy allows Globe to give its mobile data subscribers equal opportunity to enjoy its services.
The lawmakers also said Smart Telecommunications has stated a limit of 1.5GB data cap per month in its Fair Use Policy.
“The advertising of ‘unlimited’ Internet services and at the same time subjecting it to a very prohibitive ‘fair use policy’ in the fine print is misleading the consumers. Telcos and ISPs should have advertised their services with their corresponding data caps upfront,” they said in their resolution.
The Bayan Muna lawmakers also noted that people have been complaining of slow and unreliable internet services, and said this should be investigated as well.
The Philippines has one of the slowest average Internet connections worldwide, according to a report from an Internet content delivery network.
“Flashy and expensive advertisements of these companies are said to have hoodwinked Internet subscribers by glossing over and failing to inform the consuming public about the actual speed of their internet services which is usually slower than advertised,” the lawmakers said.
According to them, the National Telecommunications Commission has released a memorandum saying that broadband service providers must specify the minimum connection speed, service reliability, and service rates in their offers to consumers, advertisements, flyers, brochures and service agreements.
The minimum service reliability should be 80 percent, and this is measured over a one-month period.
The lawmakers also said in their resolution that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development considers broadband an enabling technology for people, while a United Nations official has hailed Internet access for facilitating economic development and the enjoyment of a range of human rights.
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