Lower House passes anew bill providing open access in data transmission

Published July 29, 2021, 3:59 PM

by Ben Rosario

The legislative proposal providing for open access approach in the data transmission industry took a step forward towards enactment following its approval on third and final reading in the House of Representatives.

All House members present during regular session on Wednesday, July 28 voted to pass House Bill 8910 entitled “An Act Promoting Open Access in Data Transmission and Providing Additional Powers to the National Telecommunications Commission.” HB 8910 consolidated several legislative proposals filed by Reps. Francis Gerald Abaya (1st District, Cavite); Joy Myra S. Tambunting (2nd District, Parañaque City); and Victor A. Yap (2nd District, Tarlac), among other proponents.

Described by its authors as a landmark legislation, the bill proposes to establish a strong and independent regularity system to guarantee and enhance fair competition in the data transmission industry.

By providing for an open access approach int he regulation of data transmission services, the legislative proposal seeks to ensure speedy and efficient registraiton process and promotion of open competition among all players.

HB 8910 mandates interconnection among data transmission participants, thus, will prevent dominance by a single player or by a group of data providers.

Under the bill, the National Telecommunications Commission is directed to maximize the utilization of radio spectrum redsources int he allocation and assignment of finite sources int he transmission of data by ensuring that spectrum is made available for the use of all registered data transmission industry players.

The NTC is empowered to impose P300,000 to P5 million in fine for each day of violation of provisions of the measure.

HB 8910 imposes penalties for prohibited acts that include refusal to plug and play by any data transmission industry participant and paid prioritization that bars participants from engaging in paid prioritization except when allowed by the NTC.

Throttling which is committed when a data transmission industry fails or refuses to treat all traffic equally will be penalized under the bill.

It is prohibited for a data transmission industry participant to hinder or slow down services or applications or access to specific sites in the internet except on certain conditions.

The proposed law prohibits any data transmission industry participant to refuse or fail to make available to suppliers of data transmission services, on a timely basis, the technical information about its essential facilities.

A similar bill was passed by the Lower House during the 17th Congress but the Senate Committee on Public Services then chaired by Senator Grace Poe, was unable to pass the measure.