‘Netizens’ unite, gear up fight for better internet

‘NETIZENS’ or internet citizens temporarily put aside their gizmos Saturday as they flocked the first-ever public consultation aiming to gear up fight for better internet in the country.

In partnership with Rep. Sigfrido Tinga of the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology and other lawmakers, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond ‘Mong’ Palatino took part in organizing the event to “gather as much input from the people, especially internet users, so we’ll be informed on how legislation may help in mending internet service in the country.”

Palatino said that the issue of internet service has become pertinent in this age of information technology and that the quality of internet in the country affects some 30 million Filipino internet-users.

“The number of Filipinos using the internet for work, study, entertainment and so on has grown tremendously over the years. Sadly, internet services are fraught with issues that hinder the overall productivity and welfare of our users. Indeed, the problems surrounding internet service have to be addressed and remedied,” Palatino said.

Among the issues raised by netizens in the consultations include overbilling, exorbitant fees, slow, unreliable and sub-par broadband internet connections, limited network coverage, and questionable practices like data-capping, “burstible speeds” and long contract periods.

The netizens also expressed worry on the plan of Telecommunications Companies (Telcos) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to put a cap or limit on internet speed.

During the consultation, the National Telecommunications Commission  (NTC) reiterated its decision to scrap the provision in its draft memo granting Telcos and ISPs power to limit internet speed.

Palatino, for his part, added to the list of of internet problems the lack of clear-cut legal or administrative definition of broadband in terms of standard download and upload speeds in its various forms.

He also said that there is  no existing mechanism to check if Telcos and ISPs are complying with their advertised speeds and services. He furthered that the only measure available right now to gauge internet performance is the strong discontent of the public.

The Philippines ranks 138th  in the world in terms of average internet speed according to an internet speed testing website SpeedTest.net, Other developing countries like Rwanda and Zimbabwe have faster internet speeds, the ranking notes.

“Given the problems plaguing internet service in the country, it is worth noting that the netizen’s show of unity sparks the potential for us to achieve substantial changes on the country’s internet quality. It was important that we defined the problems and that we now have a strong movement to ensure the problems will be solved”

“It also became clear that more than increasing internet speed, one important issue we also have to work toward is democratizing internet access in the country,” Palatino said.

Palatino said that his office is already drafting a Congress bill on democratizing internet which he will refer to the netizens for suggestions.

“The consultation was an achievement for we have elevated the level of internet discourse and formulated new ways of thinking and action to make quality internet available to all,” he said.

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