The Internet Society (ISOC) and the Infocomm Technology Association of the Philippines (ITAP) has organized a conference to discuss the potential changes to the Internet Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) and how it can impact users and businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs) employing Internet-based systems in the Philippines.
The conference will be attended by government representatives and industry experts across multiple sectors in the Philippines. “The regulations may hold profound and potentially hazardous implications for the future of the Internet and all its users. One of the significant implications to SMEs is the increase of Internet access cost, as some of the proposals may require a system wherein users will pay more for traffic, similar to international telephone access that involves high rates,” said Dondi Mapa, ITAP president.
Currently, traffic over the Internet provides everyone with a level playing field as it flows through unregulated commercial agreements. This provides a small Philippine business and a venture capitalist based in California equal access to the global marketplace.
However, according to Rajnesh Singh, Regional Director, Asia-Pacific, Internet Society, some members of ITU are proposing to replace this system with formal telecommunication like interconnection agreements, requiring content owners to pay additional fees to telecommunication providers for delivering content to users.
“This could broaden the digital divide, as some Internet service providers might limit connections to countries with high termination fees, which may include the world’s poorer countries. As well, some content providers may choose to limit access of their content to certain markets only where they have a feasible revenue base,” said Singh. “This will disenfranchise the global Internet user community as, again, it’s likely to be the developing countries who may not have access to such content, and lead to fragmentation of Internet content and services,” he concluded.
This change will affect many businesses in the Philippines. According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), 99.6% of businesses in the country are categorized under micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). A significant number of these MSMEs may be utilizing the power of the Internet, especially when the Philippines was cited by conversion optimization company Invesp as the 5th highest growing country in E-commerce.