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Open internet access

Manila Standard

Only around 33 percent of Filipino households have access to fixed—or wired—internet, according to a World Bank report. If that’s accurate, then we have a big challenge ahead of us.

That challenge is expanding internet access.

The problem, however, is that the legislature has yet to pass the Open Access in Data Transmission Act, which seeks to reduce costs and expand access to high-quality internet services for all Filipinos, especially those in unserved and underserved areas.

The House of Representatives passed the proposed law during the 17th and 18th Congress. However, the bill failed to secure approval from the Senate.

The Open Access in Data Transmission Act is among the priority bills of the current administration, as identified by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council.

In March this year, the National Economic and Development Authority called for the passage of the Open Access in Data Transmission Act to promote fair competition among transmission service providers.

“NEDA supports the passage of the Open Access Bill, or its newest iteration, the Konektadong Pinoy Bill. This landmark legislation embodies our commitment to promoting fair competition and dismantling barriers to entry in the data transmission sector,” Director General Arsenio Balisacan said.

It’s not just NEDA that’s supporting the Open Access Bill.

The Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines has also called for the immediate passage of the proposed law, which they said will further liberalize internet access in the country.

The JFC, which brings together the American, Australian-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese, and Korean business chambers, as well as the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Incorporated, believes prohibitive costs and the lack of internet infrastructure also contribute to the prevailing problem.

“We call for the swift passage of the Konektadong Pinoy (Open Access) bill to bridge these critical gaps in internet infrastructure and help ensure that families have the internet they need for work, school, and more,” the JFC said.

It is true the passage of this bill will reduce costs and expand access to high-quality internet services by lowering barriers to entry in the data transmission sector and encourage more competition and investment in data transmission, especially in underserved areas throughout the country.

So what’s the legislature, particularly the Senate, waiting for?

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