House-sponsored VoIP bill nears
measure proposing the deregulation of voice over Internet
Protocol (VoIP) services in the country nears approval after it
passed second reading at the House of Representatives, INQ7.net
"The House just passed on second reading the VoIP bill. The
third reading is just ministerial," said George Kintanar,
consultant to the House committee on information and
communications technology, in a text message to INQ7.net
There were several proposed measures filed last year to
deregulate VoIP in the Philippines. House bills 3476 and 3644,
filed by Representatives Clavel Martinez and Abraham Kahlil
Mitra respectively, would open commercial VoIP to
The House ICT committee eventually came out with a consolidated
VoIP is considered a disruptive technology for the
telecommunications industry since it now routes phone calls
through the Internet instead of the traditional public switched
telephone networks, thereby lowering cost of making calls.
In the Philippines, VoIP has dramatically slashed cost of making
internationals calls to as low as .05 US cents from the current
.40 US cents a minute.
In a guideline issued last year, the National Telecommunications
Commission (NTC) considers VoIP as a value-added service, which
means the Philippine Telecommunications Act or Republic Act 7925
no longer governs it.
Telecommunications companies granted a Congressional franchise
are the only entities allowed to offer voice services. As a
value-added service, VoIP falls under the deregulated services,
according to the NTC memorandum circular number 05-08-2005.
The House ICT committee said last year that the consolidated
bill aims to "complement" the NTC guidelines that were issued
The NTC guideline has already opened up the Philippine VoIP
market to value-added service providers, such as Internet
service providers who can now begin offering VoIP without the
need to apply for a Congressional franchise.
A revised guideline was eventually issued by the NTC that
identified parties that were allowed to offer VoIP services.
This also required agreements between telecommunications
carriers and Internet service providers (ISPs) regarding service
performance standards, interconnection charges, access costs, as
well as consumer security and privacy.
Prior to the NTC ruling, the Philippine telecommunications
companies and value-added service providers, such as Internet
service firms, were at loggerheads over the re-classification of
VoIP as a value-added service.
The local telephone companies had been engaged in heated public
debates with the NTC, and the value-added service providers.
The NTC officials, however, said last year that the local
telephone industry might contest its VoIP guidelines in local
courts, as with previous controversial guidelines they have
issued in the past.
posted 10:29pm (Mla time) April 06, 2006
By Erwin Lemuel Oliva