Only P200 fine? Higher penalties sought for telcos that don’t provide apt internet speeds
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is proposing an increase in the penalties imposed on telecommunication companies for their failure to deliver apt internet speeds.
During the Senate deliberations on the budget of DICT, Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the committee on public services, asked what penalties are imposed on telecommunication companies to deliver to their customers their advertised internet speeds.
Specifically, Poe used as a reference Senate Bill No. 1831 or the proposed Better Internet Act which states that telecommunication companies shall provide to their subscribers 80 percent of their advertised speed available at 80 percent of the time. The measure was approved in the upper chamber last September.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who sponsored the budget of the DICT, said that based on the Public Service Act, service providers are imposed a P200 fine for every day of violation.
“They (DICT) are recommending na increase ito sa P2 million per day para talagang mag-deliver,” Lacson said.
In response, Poe said no one would be afraid of a P200 fine, as she asked if there is a need for a new legislation to increase this.
“Kailangan ng legislation kasi ‘yung P200 per day saklaw ito ng batas sa Public Service Act. We have to amend the Public Service Act to increase the penalty to be incurred by those telcos that fail to deliver the allowable internet speed,” Lacson said.
“So if we want to compel the telcos and impose heavier fines or penalties then we will have to amend that particular provision, among others,” Lacson added.
Later in the budget deliberations, Lacson said there is also a need to look into Republic Act No. 7925 or the Public Telecommunications Policy Act of the Philippines which, he said, is already “outdated.”
This sentiment was backed by Poe.
In October, DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan called for an increase in its budget for 2021 to better implement its major programs to improve internet connectivity.
Honasan said the agency has a roadmap for the so-called new normal caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes the National Broadband Program (NBP) and free access to WiFi in public places and state universities and colleges.
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