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Telecom law too old; Security Bank award

The slow internet speed in the Philippines is, to say the least, apalling. But the problem is not impossible to solve, if the government does its share and telecommunications companies are made to answer for their poor services.

The National Telecommunications Commission knows well what ails the sector. First, there is a dire need for Congress to update our laws. Republic Act 7925 categorizes internet access as a value added service. This makes the service deregulated. Our lawmakers should consider classifying internet access as a basic service to enable government to impose stricter rules on telcos that refuse to improve their services and renege on their commitment to their subscribers. 

It doesn’t help, too, that the government can only penalize erring telcos P200 per violation, based on Public Service Act of 1936. That’s an antiquated law. 

Cheers to Tarlac Rep. Susan A. Yap for finally proposing to increase by over a thousand-fold the penalty on telecommunication companies that continue to abuse their mobile phone subscribers—from overcharging to dropped calls and slow internet speed. 

House Bill No. 6161 seeks to increase the penalty on Smart Communications Inc., Globe Telecom Inc. and Sun Cellular from P200 to P300,000 per day if they refuse to follow the order of the NTC and curb violations. The bill proposes to cap the penalty at P5 million instead of the current maximum fine of just P25,000.

Expectations over the improvement of internet speed after Globe and PLDT took over San Miguel Corp.’s telco assets have been high in the past few weeks. With the availability of the prized 700Mhz frequency now in their control, Globe and PLDT have publicly claimed they will speed up the rollout of additional cell sites for this spectrum.

If the Philippines wants positive change to be lasting, however, the government should not rely solely on what its stakeholders are capable of doing. The lasting solution is for government to invest substantially in building a nationwide broadband network to deliver faster internet speeds and give subscribers a respite from high subscription costs.

The Philippines lags behind its Asian neighbors in terms of government investment in improving the internet. South Korea invested $24 billion for its public internet backbone, while Indonesian sank $22.1 billion. Thailand is spending $19.8 billion, while the Chinese government will invest $190 billion on improving its internet in the coming years.

It would be impossible for our country to be internet speed competitive given this context. The government has to invest in building the national broadband network. And, it has to do so now.

With the Department of Information and Communications Technology now in existence, our hope of getting faster internet speeds in the long term might just come to its fruition. The development of the country’s national broadband network must be one of the department’s priorities.

New accolade

SecurityBank has just been named the Philippines Best Bank 2016 at the recently-concluded Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2016 Asia in Hong Kong.

Security Bank has developed a habit for being constantly recognized by foremost international award giving bodies as one of the best in its craft in the banking world.

Euromoney’s Awards for Excellence, now on its 25th year since its launch in 1992, were the first of their kind in the global financial publishing industry. 

Security Bank president and chief executive officer Alfonso “Yogi” Salcedo flew to China to receive the award on behalf of the bank.

“This award is a testament to our commitment to provide better banking experience to our clients,” Salcedo said.

Security Bank bested other Philippine banks in a metrics race on return on equity, return on assets, cost-income ratio, non-performing loan and non-performing loans coverage.  

In the first quarter of the year, the bank’s return on equity—which measures the profitability the company generates with each peso of shareholder’s equity—was up 22 percent delivering a net income of P3 billion.

Return on asset—an indicator of how profitable a company is relative to its total assets and paints a picture on how efficient the management is at using its assets to generate earnings—inched by 2.3 percent while cost-to-income ratio stood at 42 percent. 

Provision for probable credit losses was at P212 million during the quarter, which  reflects the bank’s fluid position. The provision for losses is designed to cover uncollected loans payments.

Security Bank in the last quarter of 2015 was tagged as Bank of the Year-Philippines by The Banker, the international Banking and Finance magazine of the Financial Times Ltd.  

The Banker chose one bank per country based on overall banking excellence, citing strong management, sound business model and prudent risk management approach to determine the winner.

“These recognitions move us to strive for greater excellence for the benefit of our clients and the banking public,” Salcedo said.

E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected] or [email protected]

Topics: Ray Eñano , Telecom law , slow internet speed , National Telecommunications Commission , Security Bank award
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