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NTC to discuss anti-monopoly policy with telcos, IT industry
 
THE NATIONAL Telecommunications Commission (NTC) is scheduled to hold a public forum on a proposed competition policy that would cover the convergence of the telecommunications and information and communications technology industry, INQ7.net learned on Tuesday.

Hosted by the University of the Philippines School of Economics in Diliman, Quezon City, the forum will be held March 15, 2006. It will focus on the 32-page consultative document the agency posted on its website (www.ntc.gov.ph).

Hoping to take a more proactive stance, the NTC said that the consultative document attempts to propose four major policies that would promote more competition while keeping incumbent players happy.

Apart from outdated regulations, the new competition policy aims to address the entry of more technological innovations -- such as voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) -- in the country.

NTC Chairman Ronald Solis said the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Digitel, and Globe are expected to join the forum. The academe and other sectors representing the local ICT industry have also been invited.

The current regulatory environment is giving unfair advantage to dominant players who have engaged in "unchecked behaviors" like predatory pricing, vertical prize squeezes, and other unfair market practices that have killed or silenced competitors, according to the draft competition policy of the NTC.

NTC, however, posed questions to explain its proposed competition policies. The agency, for instance, asked whether or not it should encourage more competition or strike a balance of power in an industry that has become cutthroat.

One interesting policy posed by NTC is the unbundling of the so-called “last mile" or "network elements." The agency said that this proposal was first made in 2000.

As telephone companies have become engaged in the same business as Internet service providers, dominant carriers now have control over the last mile and have, in most instances, favored affiliates than independent Internet service providers, the NTC said.

The agency said that unbundling or opening access to carriers' networks is relevant at this time with the emergence of VoIP that now allows value added service (VAS) providers to offer voice services.

Meanwhile, the NTC also proposed to impose stricter policies on dominant players versus non-dominant players. The agency said such regulatory practice is now accepted in countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and the European Union countries.

 
 

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