July 21, 2021

On the Open Access in Data Transmission law, the JFC is optimistic

The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) expressed confidence that Congress will pass the Open Access in Data Transmission bill during its Third Regular Session, stating that the legislation will close critical gaps in broadband infrastructure by attracting more firms to invest in data transmission and broadband.

House Bill 8910 was passed on the second reading by the House of Representatives, and the legislation is likely to be approved on the third reading when the session resumes. The Senate measure, on the other hand, is still waiting in the Science and Technology Committee.

“The JFC anticipates any mention of the Open Access bill in the SONA and proposes that the measure be certified as urgent by the president to highlight its significance to economic recovery, increased competition, and investment in broadband, particularly in underserved regions throughout the Philippines. The country’s digital infrastructure isn’t as good as that of rival nations in the area, according to the JFC.

Foreign chambers pushed for the bill’s passage, pointing out that the Philippines’ World Economic Forum rankings, which place it below Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and progressively behind Vietnam, show that the Philippines’ digital infrastructure is less strong and competitive.

“A key takeaway from the continuing epidemic is that building competitive digital infrastructure is vital for everyone in the Philippines to live better lives, and it is very important for investment, particularly foreign investment. Better education, employment, finance, government, health, and a slew of other vital economic activities,” JFC stated.

In letters addressed to the JFC members and eight Philippine organizations, Open Access was included in a list of seventeen legislation.

President Duterte, Senate President Sotto, and Speaker Velasco recently wrote to encourage passage during the 18th Congress. The Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and its Financial Inclusion Steering Committee, and the National Economic Development Authority have all expressed support for the bill.

The Open Access bill, if enacted into law, would create a competitive legislative and regulatory environment that reduces the barriers to entry and decreases the cost of data transmission. This would substantially enhance data transmission services throughout the nation (better internet speeds and cheaper internet prices). Recovery from the epidemic would be delayed and Filipinos will be less well serviced than their ASEAN counterparts without significant additional investment and competition in each of the four “miles” of the broadband industry.

Experts at a recent Senate webinar pointed out that the nation has a broadband infrastructure deficit, and that antiquated regulations are impeding the development of the Philippine Internet. The “Open Access in Data Transmission Act” is remedial legislation that aims to solve particular legal issues and close the infrastructural gap.

Senate Bill Nos. (SBN) 45, written by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Sen. Grace Poe, and SBN 911, authored by Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., are the proposed Open Access in Data Transmission Act.

The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, the Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, Inc., the Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc., and the Philippine Association of Muay Thai, Inc. are among the JFC’s seven members.

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