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Legislator seeks removal of Wi-Fi spectrum user fees to improve service in remote areas

A LEGISLATOR has asked the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to recall two circulars, one of which outlines the spectrum user fees (SUF) charged for using the Wi-Fi spectrum, in order to encourage the growth of smaller telecommunications companies where telco services are irregular.

Samar Rep. Paul R. Daza said in a statement that memorandum circular (MC) 10-10-1997 needs to be withdrawn “to allow small players to operate in underserved areas.”

He also described as outdated MC 02-05-2008, which defines the fee structure for Value-Added Services such as text and e-mail.

“The frequencies used by Globe, Smart, and the big players are licensed; these should really be charged,” he said. “Meanwhile, the Wi-Fi frequencies, which are ‘open,’ must be freed from SUF as this will allow small players to operate in underserved areas.”

The NTC has said that the minimally-used Wi-Fi frequencies generate negligible revenue — about P250,000 a year — for the agency.

The fees deter potential investors seeking to provide Wi-Fi internet in underserved areas, Mr. Daza said.

“These meager earnings from frequencies would better empower more entrepreneurs and tech startups to provide cheaper internet services,” he said.

“The US, Australia, Singapore, South Korea and Indonesia have also implemented zero SUF on Wi-Fi,” he added.

Mr. Daza said withdrawal of such fees will bring down the cost of online access.

The NTC and the DICT told legislators on Monday that they will review the circulars as requested.

Mr. Daza is the author of House Bill 43 or the proposed Sana All May Internet Act which seeks to do away with SUF for the Wi-Fi spectrum. — Kyanna Angela Bulan

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