Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Friday, March 03, 2006

NTC justifies award of 3G frequencies

By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes
The Philippine Star

Amid mounting calls from legislators to set aside the award of 3G or third generation mobile technology frequencies, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has maintained that the law itself precludes an immediate resort to bidding in the award of these bandwidths.

The NTC last year awarded four of five available 3G frequencies to Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, Digitel Mobile, and Connectivity Unlimited Resources Enterprises (CURE). Those not awarded frequencies such as Bayan Telecommunications, Next Mobile, AZ Communications Network, Multimedia Telecommunications (MTI), and Pacific Wireless filed separate motions with the commission questioning the award.

The commission has yet to award the last remaining frequency but according to NTC officials, they may have to first convince Congress that the whole award process had legal basis.

In a position paper submitted to the House of Representatives, the NTC emphasized that Republic Act 7925 or the Public Telecommunications Policy Act precludes immediate resort to the traditional public bidding process in the award of 3G radio frequencies.

Responding to claims by some legislators that the non-resort to open tender deprived the government of billions of pesos in potential revenue, especially considering the experiences in other countries, the NTC stressed that the existing law in this jurisdiction is rigidly restrictive as to when open tender can be resorted to, and that is, only after qualification by the commission as regards legal, technical and financial considerations, there emerge more applicants than the frequencies available.

"A complete reading of RA 7925 would show that the public bidding process is not the sole mode by which the commission is authorized by law to allocate spectrum use. Neither is it the primary method nor the first option that in all instances must be considered first by the commission," the NTC said.

It emphasized that the highest bidder is not necessarily the ‘best qualified,’ or the one technologically positioned to use the spectrum ‘efficiently and effectively to meet public demand.

"Simply stated, the yardstick provided by law is not money. Spectrum use must only be granted to the best qualified taking into account the service provider’s proposal to utilize the spectrum efficiently and effectively to meet public demand. And it is the NTC that has been granted by law the sole competence to pass upon this question and has in the past decades accumulated the technical experience and expertise in the evaluation and grading of proposals from service providers," the regulatory body said in its position paper.

The NTC issued a circular providing for a set of criteria against which the legal, financial and technical qualifications of prospective assignees are to be evaluated, for the purpose of determining which among them is the most qualified. Thus, to be considered best qualified, an applicant must comply with the following requirements: no outstanding unpaid fees, undertaking to interconnect, sharing of network and facilities, roaming agreements, and undertaking to abide by the terms and conditions imposed by the NTC. The commission then ranked the qualified applicants on the basis of their track record, roll-out commitments, and rates to be charged from consumers/subscribers/users

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Globe Telecom files raps vs 2 Singaporeans, 2 Pinoys

By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes
The Philippine Star

Globe Telecom has filed criminal charges against two Singaporean nationals and their two Filipino employees for the unauthorized resale of international voice calls which deprive the company of over P1 million in potential revenues per month.

Charged with violating Article 318 of the Revised Penal Code or the Anti-Access Device Law were Yong Fok Cheong aka Norman Yong, William Yong aka William Yeung, Raymong Naka, and Ramy Lozada. All of the suspects except for Yeung are now under police custody.

The suspects were apprehended during a raid at their office in Rooms 43 and 34, Leelin Building, Pasong Tamo Ave., Makati City, by a task group composed of personnel from Globe’s legal, technical (fraud), and security departments as well as those from the PNP-CIDG.

The raid led to the discovery of several units of electronic equipment which were utilized to connect calls from other countries to local landline customers using postpaid cellular phone lines from Globe but without passing through the switching facilities of licensed operators.

Seized items such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) equipment are temporarily stored at PND-CIDG pending disposition of the court.

The GSM equipment alone can accommodate 128 Globe SIM cards every one-and-a-half hours. Globe Autoload Max SIM cars were also used in the illegal international simple resale (ISR) operations.

ISR is a method of routing and completing international long distance calls using lines, cables, antennae, and/or air wave frequency which connect directly to the local or domestic exchange facilities of the country where the call is destined.

However, instead of using the SIM (subscriber identification module) cards on their mobile phones, the suspects insert the SIM cards into a GSM equipment connected to switching facilities and routers.

By using such equipment together with VoIP gateways to bypass Globe switches, the group undermined the viability of Globe’s network by not paying the latter right compensation.

Telecom companies like Globe, together with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) are relentlessly pursuing such illegal operations and have already invested on highly advanced radio equipment capable of monitoring suspicious call traffic which they, in turn, investigate and take appropriate action.

For several years now, the NTC has been leading the fight against ISR and other forms of illegal uncompensated bypass due to its harmful effects on the industry, the government, and the telephone subscribers.

By disguising international calls as local calls, telecom companies and the government are defrauded of millions of pesos in revenues since users of the service are exempt from paying toll charges

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VolP)

City Councilor & Chairman, Olongapo City Telecom Board
Olongapo City

Subject: Voice Over Internet Protocol(VolP)

Dear. Councilor Piano:


The SBMA Telecommunications Department, mandated to regulate public and private telecommunications entities operating within the Subic, has consistently implemented the rules and regulations of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) specifically on matters that promote fair, efficient, and affordable telecommunications services for the benefit of the general public.

Proactively, the NTC finally approved the rules and regulations as well as the guidelines for the provision of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VolP) which we have been waiting for years. We believe that the NTC Memorandum Circular Nos.05-08-2005 and 3-11-2005 will bring about fair and equitable competition and would positively affect consumer choice and welfare.

However, as regulator in our area of jurisdiction, we also would like to ensure that the offerings of VolP services are being provided by authorized carries, service providers and resellers pursuant to the above circulars for the protection of our consumers.

In view of the foregoing, may we request your presence or your authorized representatives in a meeting on March 7, 2006 at 2:00 in the afternoon at the Telecommunications Conference Room, Building 532, Waterfront Road, Subic Bay Freeport Zone to discuss our proposed sweeping inspection of all the Internet Service Cafés and ICT Establishments on your areas for verification of the appropriate permits and licenses for the offering of the VolP services.

We trust that you shall this matter your most preferential attention.

Thank you very much.

Very truly your,

Department Manager

Copy to:
Hon. James Gordon, Jr. City Mayor, Olongapo City
Office of the SDA for Business Development
SBMA Legal Department

Criminal cases filed against magazine, computer shop owners

Criminal cases filed against magazine, computer shop owners
By Erwin Lemuel Oliva
CRIMINAL cases have been filed against a magazine and several computer shop owners, following a police and Optical Media Board (OMB)-led raids that confiscated pirated and pornographic materials in January 2006.
The OMB and Philippine National Police have filed cases at the Department of Justice against store owners Felimon Barbasa III, owner and proprietor of Filbar's at Glorietta II and Greenbelt 1 in Makati City; Yancy Lim, owner and proprietor of Genex Mediatech in Ali Mall, Cubao; and Jose Marie Custodio, owner and proprietor of Pro-Con Computer in Ali Mall, Cubao.
The owners of Filbar's, Pro-Con Computer Center, and Genex Meditech face criminal charges for violating provisions of the Optical Media Act.
Meanwhile the PNP has also filed a case against Barbasa for selling pornographic anime CDs, a violation of Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code.
The criminal charges stemmed from the simultaneous joint raids of the PNP Anti-Fraud and Computer Crimes Division and the OMB, in which more than 6,000 pirated CDs, mostly counterfeit copies of several computer programs, were confiscated. The raid also confiscated pornographic anime CDs from Filbar's.
Continuing joint operations by the OMB and PNP are part of the Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team's activities, a government's campaign to promote awareness of intellectual property rights and curb piracy in the country.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Smart WiFi

EVER since Smart launched its residential broadband service last year, I’ve been curious to see how well it fares. After all, at P988 a month, Smart WiFi is one of the most affordable broadband options in the market.

The service was launched in June 2005 and offered initially to provincial customers at a promotional rate of P788 a month. In October, the service was launched in Metro Manila at its regular rate, offering speeds of up to 256 kilobits per second (kbps). This was faster than dial-up (maximum of 56 kbps) but slower than DSL (512 kbps).

Unlike DSL, Smart WiFi is a fixed wireless service that doesn’t require the use of a phone line. Instead, an outdoor antenna draws the bandwidth from a nearby base station, usually a Smart cell site, using WiFi (IEEE 802.11b) radio technology.

The antenna is then connected via a network cable to a PC or a router so that the connection can be shared.

This setup cuts costs because people who don’t have a landline won’t need to pay for one simply to get access. It also makes it possible to provide Internet service to remote communities that don’t have phones.

Unfortunately, while the price and technology sounded promising, reports from early adopters were generally negative.

Technology entrepreneur Abe Olandres, a.k.a. Yuga, noted on his blog (www.yugatech.com) last December that many subscribers planned to e-mail the National Telecommunications Commission to complain about downtime and intermittent connections.

“My blog has received over 1,300 comments… just because of Smart Wifi yet most of the comments were rants and cussing,” Olandres added.

A number of subscribers complained on developer Migs Paraz’s blog (migs.paraz.com) about having to wait weeks before installation and dealing with poor customer service. Still others were unhappy with their connection speed.

Against this backdrop, I was pleasantly surprised when I tested the service—provided free by Smart for a limited time—over the weekend.

Installation was fairly straightforward. A two-man team contracted by Smart came to the house and climbed up the roof to ascertain there was a clear line of sight to the nearest base station. After that, they installed the antenna and ran the cable down to my desktop PC. They then configured the network and I was up and running. The entire installation took less than two hours.

One technician said I could also share the connection wirelessly, but since my wireless router was already tied up to my DSL line, I decided to forgo this option.

I’ve used the connection for only a few days, so I can’t really speak to concerns about reliability or uptime, but I didn’t have any problems in the last two days. Connection speed was surprisingly good. Tests on DSLReports.com (www.dslreports.com/stest) showed download speeds of 246 kbps to 366 kbps.

In practical terms, this meant I could download the 5-megabyte Firefox installation program in just about two minutes, or watch a streaming movie trailer (in the smallest size) with very few delays.

I originally wanted to run a head-to-head comparison between Smart WiFi and my DSL connection but my PLDT connection was down over the weekend because of a billing problem.

I tried calling the PLDT helpline over the next two days, but never got beyond the recorded messages and muzak.

I sure hope Smart does a better job at responding to its customers.

The Digital Life archives can be found at: http://www.chinwong.com

NTC under fire from lawmakers for 3G license award, number portability

By MELVIN G. CALIMAG, Manila Bulletin

Congress is set to tackle in a public hearing this March 1 two resolutions deploring the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for granting 3G licenses without public bidding and another two bills calling for the implementation of number portability among cellular phone subscribers in the country.

The hearing will be conducted by the Committee on Information Communications Technology chaired by Cebu Rep. Simeon Kintanar, himself a former NTC chief.

In separate resolutions filed by Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Quezon City Rep. Danilo Suarez, the solons called for the nullification of the 3G (third generation) licenses given to four local operators because the manner they were awarded was unlawful and disadvantageous to the public.

The NTC did not use open bid to award the 3G license as provided under RA 7925, also known as the Public Telecommunications Policy Act of 1995, but the New Rules on the 3G and Broadband Wireless Networks it issued in August of 2005.

In Cayetano’s resolution, he urged the Lower House to conduct an investigation to prevent the government from losing R15 billion to R26 billion in revenues because of the NTC’s "blatant disregard of the required public bidding or tender process."

The Taguig lawmaker pointed out that in most parts of the world 3G licenses are put up for auction. He stressed that radio frequency spectrum is precious scarce public resource that should administered for public interest, especially with the Philippines being considered a prime market for any new telecommunications technology by virtue of its unofficial title as the text messaging capital of the world.

Cayetano said the NTC did not protect the interest of the Philippine government when the agency "manipulated the qualification requirements" to "provide a legal justification for giving 3G licenses for free, in disguise as a tangible legal interpretation of the law."

The lawmaker said the NTC violated Section 15 of RA 7925 which mandates that "where demand for specific frequencies exceeds availability, the Commission shall hold open tenders for the same and ensure wider access to this limited resource."

He said there is nothing in the said law that rules out public bidding as a method with which the NTC may assign frequency bandwidths. "Section 4(c) of RA 7295 merely declares the policy that the radio frequency spectrum should be granted to ‘to the best qualified’", he stated.

Suarez’s resolution echoed Cayetano’s sentiment, although he did not call for the investigation of the NTC but only for the regulatory body to voluntarily nullify the 3G licenses it awarded for Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, Digitel Philippines,and CURE.

The Quezon City solon said the "condition under Article V, section 15 of RA 7925 to hold open tenders where demand for specific frequencies exceed demand has already been met when the available five frequencies devoted to 3G have been outnumbered by nine applications."

Suarez also lamented the measly amount that the NTC was able to fetch from the 3G deal compared to some 26 other countries which earned 6 billion from open bids.

"R2.3 billion NTC got using the selection process under the new rules is so miniscule compared to countries with smaller population like Italy and the UK, whose governments earned billion and billion, respectively, out of the proceeds from openly bidding out the use of available frequencies devoted to 3G technology," he stated.

Also to be discussed in the public hearing are two proposed laws introduced in the chamber by Catanduanes Rep. Joseph Santiago and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda that deal with the lack of number portability in the country.

With the NTC not wanting to touch the issue, both Santiago and Salceda, through HB 3408 and 1098, have resorted to legislative enactment that would compel mobile phone service providers to give their subscribers the option to retain their numbers even if they switch to another service provider.

Salceda said the lack of number portability is a barrier to competition in the market for cellular mobile telephone service. "The lack of number portability acts as disincentive to cellular mobile telephone service providers to improve the quality of their cellular mobile telephone service. On the other hand, it is also a deterrent for customers to switch from their existing service providers even if they have to bear with unsatisfactory service."

If the two bills are consolidated and passed into law, Santiago, the NTC chair during the Estrada administration, said "service providers will be under constant pressure to enhance network coverage and minimize dead spots. They will become more aggressive in satisfying subscribers more value for their money."

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Deliver on your promise, Roxas tells e-Services firms

By edison d. ong, Manila Bulletin

Senator Manuel Roxas Jr., former Trade Secretary and now chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, has warned local business leaders and capitalists against the danger of overcrowding the call center and business processing outsourcing industry.

He told a huge gathering of attendants at the CEO Forum on Global Outsourcing Outlook during the recently held e-Services Philippines that they should "not be content with customer care and contact center stuff."

He expressed concern over the industry capability "to supply sufficient manpower."

In a news release from the Center for International trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), the organizer of this year’s 6th edition of Outsourcing Conference and Exhibition a.k.a. e-Services Philippines, said "the greatest challenge that the contact center industry faces is how to develop the 60,000 qualified recruits needed to fill anticipated growth in 2006."

Underscoring the dwindling number of qualified applicants as a concern, it reported, "the contact center industry, through the Contact Center Association of the Philippines and the Business Process Association of the Philippines, is working closely with government to meet the challenge of developing greater numbers of qualified applicants. The association, other private sector organizations, and government are collaborating to develop IT and IT-enabled services (ITES)-centered curricula, promote English as the principal language of instruction, and strengthen math and science courses.

Approximately 90 call centers collectively employ around 100,000 people in the Philippines and that number increases by several thousands every month, said Rainerio Borja, president of the Call Center Association of the Philippines. Competition for human resources and increased industry interest in the country has resulted in the decentralization of contact center locations.

Meantime, as the country buys time to train quickly qualified people for the call center industry, Roxas suggested that businessmen and investors consider other industries, particularly those the Filipino talents and skills are abundant in.

"Let us focus on what we can deliver on," he repeated several times. "It is crazy for us to project something we are not. As a country, this is not good.Let us build credibility. Deliver on your promise."

New to this year’s edition of e-Services Philippines is the Human Resources-Contact Center Track with the theme, "Our ICT Advantage: Quality Human Resources."

In an industry where human resource defines success, the Philippines’ claim in the global e-Services arena is only as good as its human capital, Citem said. "The track focuses on one of the most pressing issues in the industry: The continued supply of quality human resource. How we address this would eventually mark the country’s success in the global playing field."

For his part, Ernest Cu, director, Business Processing Association of the Philippines, suggested at a press conference, "Identify the strength in the labor pool and leverage (on it) to go up. If you don’t move up, (then) you will perish."