Duterte signs EO expanding telco entities' access to satellite systems

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 11) — As a way of improving internet services in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday signed an executive order expanding access of telecommunications entities to satellite systems.

EO 127 allows value-added service (VAS) providers and internet service providers (ISPs) registered with the National Telecommunications Commission to have direct access to all satellite systems. This will enable these service providers to build and operate broadband facilities that offer internet services.

The newly-signed executive order amended EO 467, which provides guidelines on the use of international satellite telecommunications facilities and services in the country.

"In recent years, high-speed wired and wireless data networks providing interactive connection to the internet have emerged as powerful drivers of economic and social change such that access to the internet has become a basic household need for Filipinos," the EO stated.

Broadcast service providers are also allowed direct access to satellite systems in accordance with NTC rules, regulations, and authorizations.

The new EO orders the NTC to expedite administrative processes and update its regulations to enable VAS providers and ISPs to "directly access, utilize, own, and operate" internet access service facilities using satellite technologies.

EO 127 also updated the definition of direct access, which described "dealings between authorized entities and satellite system providers at specified levels as defined by the NTC."

In his State of the Nation Address last year, Duterte ordered leading Philippine telcos Smart Communications and Globe Telecom to improve their internet services by end of 2020 or else he will take over their operations.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology encouraged telcos to support the department's Common Tower project aimed at improving the country's internet services. This will enable them to reach a wider population and enhance their wireless network coverage and quality of information and communications technology services.

Filipinos have become more reliant on mobile data services during the COVID-19 pandemic as they are forced to work or study from home.