Preferential internet service deals to be prohibited | Inquirer Business

Preferential internet service deals to be prohibited

/ 05:16 AM February 10, 2022

The country’s antitrust body is working on a policy that will bar property developers from imposing their preferred internet service providers (ISP) on their residents.

Johannes Bernabe, a commissioner at the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), said last week that the PCC was working on a draft circular that would prohibit property developers’ exclusive arrangements with ISPs. In essence, it would say that consumers should be able to choose other ISPs.

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“I was hoping that we could issue the draft circular before the end of the first quarter. I don’t know though if the election ban also covers issuance on joint regulatory circulars. We’re still researching that while we continue our consultations with other agencies on the provisions of the circular,” he said in a recent Viber message to the Inquirer.

The practice of imposing their preferential ISP is an example of what the Philippine Competition Act calls an “abuse of dominance.” This refers to a situation when a business with a strong hold on the market uses its resources to restrict competition.

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Pending lawsuits

Since the PCC was formally organized in 2016, it has so far filed two charges of abuse of dominance—both concerning different property developers limiting which ISP their residents can choose. It filed its first case in 2019, then again against a different developer in February 2021.

When asked for further information, PCC said it had decided to form an ISP task force in March. It received a total of 104 queries and complaints as of the end of last year. While it did not disclose which property developers were being complained about, Bernabe said in a press briefing that they happened “mostly [in] the same properties.”

“We, in the commission, are working in finalizing a draft memorandum circular hopefully to be jointly issued with other regulatory agencies involved in property development and informations and communications technology,” he said during PCC’s press conference for the 2022 Manila Forum on Competition.

“[This] will essentially become a general principle that the exclusivity arrangements in so far as internet service provision or telecom entities or cable TV are sought to be prohibited,” he said.

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TAGS: internet service providers (ISP), Johannes Bernabe, Philippine Competition Commission (PCC)
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