/ 8 July 2021

SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday encouraged more internet service providers to have direct access to satellite technology to prompt competition and eventually bring down the cost of internet connection in the country.

“Limited use and low demand may make satellite broadband in the country expensive but in the long run, it can lower the cost as long as more demand will be created,” the chairman of the Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture said.

Under Gatchalian’s proposed Satellite-Based Technologies for Internet Connectivity Act of 2021, value-added service providers and internet service providers may directly access, utilize, own, and operate facilities for internet access service using satellite technologies without the need of a franchise and provisional authority or Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the National Telecommunications Commission.

“Dito sa batas na inihain ko, hindi na kailangang kumuha ng franchise kaya mas madaling makahikayat ng mga pribadong kompanya at mga dayuhang mamumuhunan na pumasok sa industriya para mapalawak ang merkado,” the senator said.

The bill aims to bolster Executive Order 127 s. 2021 which amended EO 467 allowing telcos, VAS providers, and ISPs registered with the NTC to have direct access to all satellite systems in offering internet services.

Gatchalian said the EO does not provide clear provisions on foreign ownership requirements for VAS providers and ISPs.

As internet usage in the country increased following the outbreak of the Covid19 and sudden shift to work-from-home scheme and distance learning setup, household expenses increased due to additional cost brought by longer use of the internet.

“Ang naturang panukalang batas ay magiging sagot din sa pangangailangan ng mga wala o hirap ang access sa internet sa bansa,” Gatchalian said.

A Social Weather Stations survey released last March 5 said that 86 percent of Filipino families with household members enrolled in online distance learning spend an average of P901 per month as additional expenses for internet connection.