P2-M fine for telcos that fail to deliver advertised Internet speed proposed by DICT

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) wants to impose fines of up to P2 million per day for telecommunications companies and service providers that will fail to deliver their advertised Internet speeds.

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT)

During the Senate's plenary debates on the proposed 2021 budget of the DICT Friday, Sen. Grace Poe raised that some companies tend to offer promising Internet speeds but do not actually deliver on their promise.

"Marami kasi sa kanilang mga telco, naga-advertise na ganito kabilis 'yong Internet speed pero hindi naman (Many of the telcos advertise that they have certain Internet speeds that turn out to be false) because it actually fluctuates a lot," Poe said.

"So kung hindi nila magawa ito (if they fail to deliver)...how much penalty does the DICT deem just to impose on these telco companies?"

"They are recommending na increase ito sa P2 million per day para talagang mag-deliver (They are recommending an increase to P2 million per day so that telcos will be compelled to deliver)," Sen. Panfilo Lacson, sponsor of the DICT budget, responded on behalf of DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan who was present at the Senate plenary hall.

Lacson said the government, at present, only imposes a fine of P200 per day for any violations of the terms and conditions of public service.

This was provided under Section 21 of the Public Services Act which was signed in 1936.

"So kailangan po natin i-amend 'yung (we have to amend the) Public Service Act to increase the penalty to be incurred by those telco that fail to deliver the allowable Internet speed," he said.

"Since we are in the process of deliberating some of the amendments of the Public Service Act, maybe we can introduce that particular amendment to increase the penalties."

Poe, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Public Services, also said that there is a pending Senate Bill No. 1831 or the Better Internet Bill which seeks to prohibit Internet service providers from advertising or offering Internet service speeds that they cannot consistently provide.

Under the bill, they "shall provide to their subscribers 80 percent of their advertised speed available at 80 percent of the time."

The bill also seeks to set minimum speed thresholds for the services to be delivered by the telcos and Internet service providers in urban and rural areas.

The bill is still awaiting plenary discussion.

Lacson said that according to the DICT's latest tracking, the Philippines has an average Internet speed of 26 Mbps (megabits per second) for fixed broadband and 16 Mbps for mobile.

"Which we don’t believe, because more often than not, especially when were moving, hindi nga tayo umaabot ng (we do not even reach) five Mbps. Minsan nasa mga three or four lang tayo (Sometimes we are between 3 or 4 Mbps)," Lacson said.

The DICT said a 27 Mbps is "enough" for better Internet experience.

"Yes, they believe that there should be a minimum Internet speed. Sa kanilang palagay, 'yong 27 Mbps, sapat na po 'yon na Internet speed," Lacson quoted DICT officials as saying.