Enrile wants passage of bill seeking to reorganize NTC

January 28, 2010 10:47 pm 

MANILA, Jan. 28 — Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile called on Thursday for the immediate passage of a bill that would reorganize the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to further develop the information and communications sector in the country.

In his sponsorship speech of Senate Bill No. 3465, Enrile pointed out that since a number of new industry players have emerged in the past years and advancements in technologies have changed the industry from a monopolistic industry to one that provides a wider choice for consumers, the government should now provide a better regulatory environment for the industry.

Enrile’s proposal is to reorganize the NTC by strengthening its existing organizational structure and capabilities to meet the rapid developments of emerging technologies in the fields of information, communications, broadcast, cable TV and other multi-media infrastructure and services.

“As the regulatory agency overseeing the business operations of the telecommunications industry, the NTC structure needs to be re-engineered and transformed into a politically-independent and fiscally-autonomous body to insulate it from political pressure,” Enrile said.

At present, the NTC is an attached agency of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT). Its mandate is “to develop an integrated nationwide transmission system by itself or through or together with other entities in accordance with national and international standards to meet all telecommunications requirements.”

“The agency’s powers and functions need to be enhanced for them to be able to cope with the evolving information and communications technology landscape. More importantly, the NTC must be able to independently regulate and equalize the playing field for all industry players while affording better protection for the consuming public,” Enrile explained.

The proposed NTC reorganization, Enrile said, would “foster a competitive business environment through a fair and professional market behavior among industry players and ensure universal access to reliable and affordable services.”

Moreover, Enrile added, this would “protect the interests and welfare of both the industry players and the consuming public.”

Enrile said that through Senate intervention, the NTC is now in the process of undertaking reforms in its regulatory policies.

These reforms include load expiry, where the NTC ordered the extension of the validity of prepaid loads; push messages, where the NTC bans telcos and content providers from sending push or unsolicited messages such as ring tone alerts, etc.; dropped calls, where the NTC has ordered the service providers to improve grade of service to lessen the incidence of dropped calls among cell phone users; and the 6-second per pulse unit of billing, where cell phone users are now billed on a 6-second per pulse unit, instead of a per-minute-rounded-up-rate.

The reorganized NTC would be empowered to impose fines and penalties on persons and entities that operate without authorization, or violate the terms and conditions of any authorization issued by the agency.

The revamped NTC would be a collegial body of three Commissioners, composed of a Chairperson and two Commissioners, all of whom shall be appointed by the President on recommendation of the CICT. The Commissioners shall have a fixed term of five years with an option to be reappointed for another term of five years.

The reorganized agency, Enrile added, should enjoy fiscal autonomy and all moneys appropriated and earned by the Commission should be utilized solely for its operations. (PNA)

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