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SLOW CONNECTION PROBE

Internet service getting faster, telcos tell Senate

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MANILA, Philippines–The country’s leading telecommunication companies assured a Senate inquiry on Tuesday that there has been a growing improvement in the speed of Internet connection in the Philippines, attributing this to their continued investment in Internet infrastructure.

But even with this assurance, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said it wanted to regulate the quality of service given by the telcos by prescribing minimum standards.

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At the second hearing by the Senate committee on trade, commerce and entrepreneurship on Tuesday, discussions centered on whether consumers are getting their money’s worth from their Internet service providers (ISPs) and telcos.

Slow, expensive

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The hearing was called to look into the slow and expensive Internet connection being provided to consumers in the country.

NTC officials told the hearing that the agency has no power to regulate the price of Internet connection but it can regulate the quality of service.

They said they wanted to buy equipment needed to monitor the level of service or the broadband speed provided by telcos and ISPs in order to be able to “prescribe minimum” speed.

Sen. Bam Aquino, the committee chair, later told reporters that the committee will be waiting for the NTC to issue the memorandum circular which would set out its prescribed minimum standards for telco and ISP services.

Vastly improved

Globe and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co./Smart claimed that there has been continued improvement in Internet connectivity in the country.

Ray Espinosa, the PLDT/Smart head of regulatory affairs and policies, said that studies have shown that Internet connection speed in the country “has vastly improved year on year.”

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He said “peak connection” had also improved “year on year” and that this would continue.

Espinosa said the studies show “how much investments of telcos and ISPs are being brought to bear to make Internet infrastructure accessible and pervasive.”

Getting faster

Manny Estrada, Globe’s senior vice president for network technology strategy, said Internet speed in its network was “gradually increasing” and attributed this to Globe’s $700-million network modernization and expansion program, particularly on wireless network and fixed broadband.

Estrada said the challenge facing telcos in ensuring an increased speed in Internet connections has to do with the fact that it was a “shared connection.”

He underscored the need for Globe to invest more to ensure that the network will be able to provide good service as its subscribers increase.

Estrada said another challenge facing the industry is the fact that there are some consumers who are “abnormal” Internet users which, he said, has led global telcos to “manage excessive usage.”

Advertised speed

During the hearing, Aquino asked the telcos to state very clearly in their advertisements the speed of actual Internet connection that they can provide consumers and not the maximum which they don’t deliver entirely.

He said that telcos usually are able to provide the maximum speed only for certain hours in a day and not the entire day.

“We should advertise what is our assured speed and people should be paying on the assured speed and not based on ‘up to’ especially if you can only get it for just a few hours in a day,” Aquino told reporters after the hearing.

The senator said the telcos agreed to change their ads to reflect actual volume on a consumer’s plan.

He said this was an “improvement” as this would inform consumers on how much they are paying and how much they are getting from their service providers.

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