DICT finalizing implementing rules of EO 127 liberalizing satellite access

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is now finalizing the draft implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Executive Order (EO) No. 127, which liberalizes access to satellite technology through inclusive access to satellite services.

DICT assistant secretary Adrian Jude Echaus in an online presentation on July 28 said the agency has already conducted various consultations and solicited inputs and comments, and is now putting the final touches to the draft IRR implementing the new national policy on access to satellite services.

EO 127, titled “Expanding the Provision of Internet Services through Inclusive Access to Satellite Services, Amending EO No. 467 (S. 1998),” was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last March 10.

Under the EO, non-enfranchised but registered internet service providers (ISPs) and value-added service providers (VASPs) may directly access satellite systems to put up broadband facilities. There used to be a franchise requirement in the access of international satellite systems.

This will allow small players like cable television operators and utility cooperatives to operate a satellite broadband service for local communities.

EO 127 directs the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to update its regulations and expedite its administrative processes to enable VAS providers and ISPs to directly access, use, own, and operate facilities for Internet access service using satellite technologies, such as very small aperture terminals (VSAT), broadband global area network, and similar technologies, for all segments of the broadband network.

It is understood, however, that VAS providers and ISPs shall comply with existing policies and requirements concerning the registration of VAS and ISP offerings and submission of their schedule of rates.

The new EO updates the definition of the term ” direct access” to any of several measures permitting direct dealings between authorized entities and satellite system providers at specified levels as defined by NTC.

Direct access used to refer to measures permitting direct dealings between authorized entities and international satellite system providers.

Echaus said the agency has already begun exploratory talks with local and foreign satellite providers on the provision of satellite broadband services. These include Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, regarding the possible use of Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite internet unit.

“DICT is studying how this can fit into the DICT community Wi-Fi and Internet initiatives,” he said.

Added Echaus: “Overall this means that the DICT will deploy more last-mile connectivity to geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas faster. Likewise the deployment of VSATs can be DICT’s short-term solution to providing readily available Internet connectivity while we lay out the fiber optic backbone.”

EO 127 also directs the DICT, in consultation with concerned agencies and sectors, to regularly review the responsiveness of the policy and submit recommendations to the Office of the President.

Under the new EO, the DICT, in coordination with the NTC, shall issue the necessary rules and regulations for the implementation of EO 127 within 30 days from the issuance of the order.

The business community earlier welcomed the passage of EO 127 as a progressive step toward improving Internet access and addressing the needs of unserved and underserved areas in the country. The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. and Employers Confederation of the Philippines had batted for the amendment of EO 467 to remove the franchise requirement in the access of international satellite systems.

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