Cheaper internet in PH likely if NTC waives spectrum user fee, says lawmaker | Inquirer News

Cheaper internet in PH likely if NTC waives spectrum user fee, says lawmaker

/ 05:09 PM September 27, 2022
Cheaper internet in the Philippines is likely if the NTC waives the collection of the spectrum user fees,

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MANILA, Philippines — Cheaper internet in the country, especially in rural and underserved areas, is possible if the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) would forego the spectrum user fee (SUF).

During budget deliberations on Tuesday, Northern Samar 1st District Rep. Paul Daza explained that the SUF hinders small and independent telecommunication companies from delivering adequate services because they have to shell out more to use the WiFi frequencies that are supposedly “open to public use.”

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Under the current setup, the NTC collects the SUF from telcos using frequencies. But, according to Daza, this disadvantages small players only using the WiFi frequency. For this, the legislator suggested that NTC just charge the SUF on big players such as Globe and Smart, and other larger companies using frequencies.

“Unlike licensed spectrums, WiFi is unlicensed, so it is typically considered as open to public use following minimum guidelines,” Daza said, noting that other countries have stopped collecting SUF on WiFi frequencies.

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“The frequencies used by Globe, Smart, and the big players are licensed; these should really be charged. Meanwhile, the WiFi frequencies, which are ‘open’, must be freed from SUF as this will allow small players to operate in underserved areas,” he added.

Daza also revealed during plenary debates on the proposed 2023 budget of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) that he was able to secure the agency’s commitment to work on the removal of the SUF for WiFi.

The NTC is an attached agency of the DICT.

“I’m happy to note that DICT has given its commitment to work on the scrapping of SUF for WiFi. If implemented successfully, this will be a major accomplishment of the Marcos administration,” he said.

“Especially with the pandemic, the government, through the DICT, should exert stronger efforts to ensure that all Filipinos will have access to fast, cheap, and reliable internet,” he added.

Daza then said that NTC’s old circulars are to blame for the continuous collection of the SUF despite meager earnings from the use of the WiFi bandwidth, which accounts for only around P250,000 per year. He noted that the government might earn more if the SUF is scrapped due to more significant investments and more value-added tax (VAT) collections.

“The government can earn significantly more from wider business activities expected from the scrapping of SUF for unlicensed frequencies due to VAT payments,” he asserted.

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The idea of doing away with the SUF has been discussed before. In April 2020, former DICT secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said the NTC is expected to release an order on this matter to help smaller internet service providers. With reports from Alyssa Joy Quevedo, trainee

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TAGS: Internet, NTC, Telco, wifi
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