Business groups pushing Internet bills, cite key role in progress

THE Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and Better Internet PH urged the incoming administration to pass key Internet connectivity legislation in the next six months, which will allow more market players to participate in building the country’s digital infrastructure, especially in the countryside.

In a statement on Wednesday, the PCCI said, “we laud the campaign promise of President-elect Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. to make the development of the digital infrastructure a top priority. To accelerate economic recovery and help various industries bounce back from the pandemic, the Philippines needs to have accessible, reliable, affordable, and secure internet as the foundation of the digital economy.”

According to Google’s 2021 Economic Impact Report, if fully leveraged, the country “can foster a digital economy that can raise P5 trillion in economic value by 2030.”

Of this value, 70 percent can be generated by technology-led business, including e-commerce and mobile applications for the retail industry “which can facilitate digital transactions and interactions, reduce labor requirements, promote inventory efficiencies, and cut real estate costs, offering productivity gains ranging from 6 to 15 percent.”

Despite pushing for faster download speed through news releases, the PCCI said, the Filipino people and the business sector continue to suffer from poor Internet service.

“We urge the new administration to identify as urgent the passage of laws that will expand Internet coverage in the rural areas and provide more connectivity choices for all Filipinos,” the PCCI said in its statement.

One of the laws being recommended for its enactment is the Open Access in Data Transmission Act which introduces a regulatory framework, specifically for Internet services. The bill proposes a simple and efficient qualification and registration process for Internet service providers, promotes infrastructure-sharing, and helps fast-track Internet network rollout.

Another law is the Rural Wired Connectivity Development Act with an objective of expanding wired Internet services in the rural areas by giving incentives to industry players who will operate in rural areas.

On the distribution of radio spectrum for wireless services, the PCCI recommends enacting the Spectrum Management Act which also promotes transparency, equity, and competition in its management, including internet connectivity.

Meanwhile, another legislation is the Better Internet Act which requires service providers to comply with a minimum Internet connection speed depending on the location (i.e. rural areas, highly urbanized cities,etc.) and to deliver at least 80 percent of advertised download speed.

The Satellite-based Technologies Promotion Act is also being pushed by the PCCI for its enactment. It capitalizes on the reform of Executive Order No. 127 s. 2021 and encourages more private-sector investment in satellite Internet as a connectivity option for geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA).

The PCCI believes the passage of the bills will help the Philippines utilize the digital opportunity that advanced countries have harnessed and their citizens are now enjoying. “With better internet connectivity, the Philippines will achieve the golden age in the digital era,” said PCCI.

To further understand how the bills will improve internet service and access to benefit the Filipino people, PCCI and the Better Internet PH are organizing a webinar on June 28, 10 am. Interested parties may register at https://bit.ly/PCCIBetterInternet