(File photo)

MANILA – The measure providing for open access approach in the regulation of the data transmission industry took a step forward toward enactment following its second reading approval in the House of Representatives.

During Monday's plenary session, the chamber passed through voice voting House Bill 6, or the proposed Open Access in Data Transmission Act, which aims to establish a strong and independent regulatory system and body to ensure fair competition in the data transmission industry.

Speaker Martin Romualdez, author of the bill, said it would lay the foundation of a framework that will promulgate rules and standards to promote the construction and development of reliable, affordable, open, and accessible data networks that transmit information at a speed and quality "comparable to the best in the world".

"The bill proposes to establish a strong and independent regulatory system and body to create an environment within the data transmission industry that is conducive to open, fair, and innovation-propelled competition, and shall encourage investments in the development of digital infrastructure of the country," Romualdez said.

The bill shall require interconnection among data transmission participants to avoid dominance b a single player or by a group of data providers.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) shall be mandated to maximize the utilization of radio spectrum resources in the allocation and assignment of such finite resources in the transmission of data by ensuring that spectrum is made available for the use of all registered data transmission industry participants.

The NTC shall also be mandated to require all data transmission industry participants and Public Telecommunications Entities (PTEs) providing data transmission services, to comply with the prescribed performance standards and shall impose penalties for failure to comply with such performance standards.

The proposed measure also ensures fair competition by mandating that at any given layer, there should be at least two significant providers.

All data transmission industry participants shall be required to register with the NTC and those who will operate an international cable landing station shall secure a legislative franchise.

It proposes to impose a fine of PHP300,000 to PHP5 million for every day of violation, per prescribed performance standards to any data transmission industry participant that fails to substantially comply with the minimum service requirement.

In addition, if the said entity fails to comply with the prescribed performance standards for three consecutive years, it shall be removed, subject to due process, from the registry of registered data transmission industry participants and shall be prohibited from rendering data transmission services.

The bill prohibits the refusal to plug and play, paid prioritization, throttling and vertical ownership. (PNA)