Congress forms another VoIP working group

Discussion in 'DSL & Info Tech News' started by dslmaster, Feb 3, 2005.

  1. dslmaster

    dslmaster Administrator Staff Member

    Congress forms another VoIP working group

    The Congressional Committee on Information and Communication Technology (CICT) is forming a technical working group (TWG) for the long-standing debate on the use of Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) in the Philippines.

    Committee Chair Congressman Simeon Kintanar said in Wednesday's public hearing that the TWG would form a draft bill setting terms for the deployment of VoIP. In addition, the group would consolidate bills related to its implementation.

    Two similar bills on VoIP deployment were recently filed. One was house bill 3476 of 4th District Cebu Representative Clavel Asas-Martinez.

    Representative Abraham Kahlil Mitra of Palawan’s Second District also submitted HB 3644, based on the same premise as Martinez's bill.

    The TWG will be composed of legal and technical experts in telecommunications, said Kintanar. It will be formed when the ICT committee completes the collection of proposals and position papers from various groups involved in the dispute. Kintanar said they hope to get all the position papers by Wednesday next week.

    Kintanar's announcement on the formation of the congressional TWG for VoIP runs parallel to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC)’s own TWG which is still trying to resolve the long-standing debate.

    NTC Chairman Ronald Solis said they are expecting to come up with a draft resolution by the first week of March. It is hoped that this will finally give a more refined definition of what VoIP is and who can offer it locally.

    Kintanar stressed on the other hand that their TWG would also review the NTC's draft resolution in order to come up with a better proposal.

    The NTC will have to give way to Congress should the latter decide to pursue legislative action on VoIP deployment.

    Telecommunication carriers have been arguing that the VoIP is by its very nature a “voice service.” Carriers point out that Republic Act 7925 or the Telecommunications Law describes VoIP as such.

    But Internet service providers represented by the Philippine Internet Service Organization have said that VoIP uses non-traditional equipment and is thus considered a “value-added service.”

    The debate dragged on for nearly five years until the Congressional Committee on ICT recently reviewed it. Seeing that the problem lies in the interpretation of RA 7925, Kintanar argued, “It is us who create the law and we can be the ones changing [it] so that it can stand up to the test of time.”

    Despite the debate, both the telecommunications carriers and the ISPs agree that large-scale deployment of VoIP is inevitable.

    Globe Telecom Corporate Affairs Senior Vice President Rodolfo Salalima, who also represented the Philippine Chamber of Telecommunications Operators, said during the public hearing that the telecommunications industry is not against VoIP but is concerned with who will control it and the charges that would be made.

    Likewise, William Torres, president of ISP Mosaic Communications President, said ISPs also wanted a settled definition of VoIP.

    “The bone of contention is that VoIP isn't defined. We need either to agree on a definition now or change the law,” said Torres, a director of the Philippine Internet Services Organization, a trade organization of ISPs.

    Posted 09:34pm (Mla time) Feb 02, 2005
    By Alexander F. Villafania

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