Solon seeks to give more powers to NTC

May 18, 2017 at 14:36

Solon seeks to give more powers to NTC

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A senator is seeking to give  more teeth to the regulations governing the telecommunication industry.

Sen. Win Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, on Tuesday noted the need to overhaul the government’s spectrum allocation system.

“To open the telecommunications industry to competition and give way to a viable third player, we need a more transparent system of spectrum allocation, assignment, re-allocation and re-farming, as well as the development, promotion and deployment of a competitive selection process in the allocation of our publicly-owned spectrum,” Gatchalian said as he sponsored the first of a series of legislative measures, as contained under proposed Senate Resolution No. 213, that seek to formulate a legislative policy that would protect consumer interests and make the industry more robust.

“There seems to be no other visible way. Our efforts at relaxing constitutional restrictions to allow foreign firms to enter the telecommunications industry will be merely illusory if these firms do not have enough frequencies that will enable them to offer real competition and give consumers the best value for their money,” Gatchalian added.

The senator noted the present spectrum allocation system has permitted the two telecommunication companies to  engage in  what he called spectrum trading’  in relation to their co-use agreement of the 700-Megahertz spectrum.

“The damage caused by such ‘spectrum trading’ to the industry is immense. Such failure of the National Telecommunication Commission  in the past to properly govern our publicly-owned spectrum has resulted in the private trading of frequencies. Private corporations have treated spectrum allocations as their property, resulting in relatively easy and effective ‘spectrum trading’ via corporate mergers and acquisitions – as in the recent case of the joint acquisition of the 700Mhz frequencies,” Gatchalian said.

He said the NTC being “organizationally handicapped as a regulator” of the telecoms industry  should be “reorganized and given fiscal autonomy to enable it to freely create an environment of regulatory certainty and operational conditions that are necessary to promote the welfare of consumers.”

Gatchalian also proposed that NTC commissioners be given fixed terms of office to “depoliticize” the commission.

“The NTC must be empowered and strengthened to be able to shield its officers from (such) threats of litigation and harassment,”  he said.

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