NTC told to act on 'misleading' maximum Internet speeds offered to consumers

Published June 29, 2020, 1:46 PM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ellson Quismorio 

The House Committee on Information and Communications Technology has asked the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to ensure accuracy from telcos or Internet providers (IPs) as to the actual Internet speed that they are delivering to consumers.

House of the Representatives (Facebook/ MANILA BULLETIN)
House of the Representatives (Facebook / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“We should really change the nomenclature whenever they say [maximum] speed. At least for the given bandwidth they are selling, they should do that. That’s why we have become the joke of Internet speeds,” panel chairman, Tarlac 2nd district Rep. Victor Yap said in a recent virtual hearing.

During the hearing, Manila Teachers Party-List Rep. Virgilio Lacson complained to NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios about the IPs’ penchant for advertising their “maximum speed” even if their actual Internet speed is way below the touted figures.

“Sa advertisement nila, sasabihin nila, up to 10 mbps (megabits per second). So mabilis. Pero kapag alam mo nang madaming gumagamit, halos na wala nang signal. So anong ginagawa ng NTC for this? Kasi alam naman natin tama naman yung statement nila eh medyo hindi lang siya accurate kasi sabi nila up to 10 mbps (In their advertisements, they say up to 10 mbps. So it’s fast. But you almost lose signal when there is heavy usage. So what is NTC doing about this? Because we know that their statement is correct, it’s just not accurate to say up to 10 mbps),” he told Cabarios.

“Ang pino-point out ko lang, pwede ba nating baguhin, huwag mong sabihing ‘up to 10 mbps?’ Ang ilalagay mo, eto yung minimum speed na required na ibigay mo para hindi tayo nami-mislead (My point is, can we change it so that they don’t advertise ‘up to 10 mbps?’ Instead you say the minimum speed you are required to give so that we won’t be misled),” added Lacson.

The NTC official agreed with Yap and Lacson that there’s a need to highlight minimum Internet speed over the maximum speed, which he said is dependent on several factors.

“Ang speed is mas mabilis kung mas malapit sa base station. So habang lumalayo ka, bumabagal po iyan (The closer you are to the base station, the faster the speed is. So the farther you get from it, it gets slower). So [their] maximum [speed] is realized when you are quite near the station at medyo konti ang nagamit at the same time (and there aren’t many Internet users at the same time),” Cabarios explained.

The regulatory body will soon come up with a circular to guide Internet providers as to what they could advertise to consumers.

He told the Information and Communications Technology panel that “we will come up with a circular prescribing the minimum based on what they say is the maximum,” adding that the prescribed minimum speed will be a certain percentage of the maximum speed.

Cabarios admitted that actual connection speeds being delivered to consumers are simply too slow when compared to their supposed fastest speed.

“Kasi ang nangyayari po ngayon, ang sasabihin nila 10 mbps maximum pero ang minimum niya is 256 kbps (kilobits per second). Yung minimum niya should not be 256 kbps kasi ang layo nung range from 10 mbps to 256 kbps. So pinag-aaralan na po ngayon yan kung ano yung, what is the minimum (What’s happening now is they say 10 mbps maximum, but the minimun is 256 kbps. That should not be the minimum because there’s too big a range from 10 mbps to 256 kbps. So right now we’re studying what should be the minimum),” he said.

One megabit is equivalent to 1,000 kilobits.

Cabarios said that a telco or IP is always aware of the maximum speed it can give to subscribers in a particular area, or just how many they can accommodate with their bandwidth. It’s just a matter of monitoring them on the part of the NTC, he said.

“May mga traffic analysis po sila. Alam ho nila, napag-aaralan po nila (They do traffic analysis. They know their data, they study it).”

The Deputy Commissioner said he will provide the committee with a draft of the circular this week. “I’m all for that,” commented Yap.

Serviceable Internet speed has become more crucial for the country because of the current COVID-19 pandemic which has made physical distancing the new way of life.