Foreign chambers and business groups have urged for urgent passage of House Bill 8910 or the Open Access in Data Transmission bill, which aims to bridge critical gaps in broadband infrastructure by attracting more firms to invest in the data transmission and broadband sector.

The House approved the bill on third reading for two consecutive Congresses while the Senate bill remained in Committee for the 17th and 18th Congresses. With the House’s approval, the groups called on the Senate to commence deliberations on the measure. The proposed Open Access in Data Transmission Act, filed in the Senate under Senate Bill Nos. (SBN) 45 authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Sen. Grace Poe, and SBN 911, authored by Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, are pending in Science and Technology Committee chaired by Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay.

In a letter sent to Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III, the groups called for the immediate passage of the reform, noting its importance to economic recovery and more competition and investment in broadband, especially in underserved areas throughout the Philippines.

The groups also noted the support of the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and its Financial Inclusion Steering Committee, and the National Economic Development Agency for the measure. Digital infrastructure in the country lags behind infrastructure in competing countries in the region. World Economic Forum ratings, where the Philippines is usually behind Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and increasingly behind Vietnam indicate the Philippines has less robust and competitive digital infrastructure. One major lesson of the ongoing pandemic is that developing competitive digital infrastructure is essential for better lives for everyone in the Philippines and certainly critical for investment, particularly foreign investment. Better education, employment, finance, governance, health, and a multitude of other essential activities of a strong economy.

Once passed into law, the Open Access bill will provide a competitive policy and regulatory framework that lowers the barriers and cost to enter the data transmission market. This will significantly improve data transmission services (faster internet speed and lower internet costs) throughout the country. Signatories to the letter are: American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, Inc. Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc. Management Association of the Philippines Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters, Inc. Semiconductor & Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation, Inc., and US-ASEAN Business Council.

Source: Manila Bulletin (