Senator wants telcos to disclose their coverage areas

Published February 6, 2021, 11:55 AM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

With the increased use of internet and telecommunication services during the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Joel Villanueva is seeking to mandate all telecommunication companies and internet service providers to disclose their coverage areas to the public.

(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Villanueva filed Senate Bill No. 1981, which proposes to institutionalize the practice of mapping the service coverage areas of mobile network operators “so that the public will be aided in making their decision on what provider to choose.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced individuals, businesses, the public sector, and other groups to rely heavily on technology in their daily activities. Distancelearning, for instance, has become the norm in the educational sector. Meetings have been scheduled and done through the use of online platforms,” the lawmaker said in filing his bill last January 12.

People, he added, have also resorted to Netflix and other video streaming platforms to be entertained following the imposition of community quarantines.

Under the bill, all telecommunications entities and internet service providers operating in the country will be required to publish annually their coverage data on their websites.

The disclosure should include a publicly accessible map showing the availability and scope of mobile and fixed broadband internet access services, and/or mobile telecommunications services within the territorial jurisdiction of thePhilippines.

It should also specify the network or internet type — GSM, 3G, 4G, LTE, and others — being used in the geographical region.

Meanwhile, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will be tasked to create a unified indexing system of data released by the telcos in a single platform.

The bill said the the platform shall include the following: the display of the geographical coverage of internet and telecommunications services in the Philippines; crowdsourcing facilities; and other information giving the public knowledge about the telecommunications and internet coverage in the country.

Villanueva said the disclosure of coverage data will also be useful to policy makers, private sector players, and other stakeholders in understanding connectivity situation and will help determine the strengths and weaknesses of telcos in the country.

He said it will also help decision makers in allocating and focusing resources instead for underserved and unserved areas.

SB No. 1981 has been referred to the Senate public services committee for discussion with concerned authorities and stakeholders.