Dominant carrier to open up DSL network to ISPs

By Geoffrey P. Ramos

Computerworld Philippines

Dominant carrier Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) will finally open up its digital subscriber line (DSL) infrastructure and allow local Internet service providers (ISPs) to resell the service, a company official said last week.

PLDT’s DSL service has been the bone of contention between the phone company and ISPs since its introduction two years ago. The Philippine Internet Service Organization (PISO), a group composed of local ISPs, has been clamouring for the opening up of PLDT’s DSL infrastructure or the lowering of rates for dial-up lines.

Alfredo Panlilio, PLDT senior vice president and head of Corporate Business Group, said PLDT is now modifying its existing telecommunications system to allow multiple providers to link up with its DSL network. In the past, PLDT did not have the technological capability to allow multiple DSL providers to interface with the PLDT DSL network, he explained. But the company will soon have that capability, he assured.

“We agreed with PISO members that once we are ready to actually provide that DSL infrastructure to them, we are willing to share the infrastructure at mutually agreed terms and conditions,” he said.

“We will open up the DSL infrastructure as soon as PLDT is technically ready. We are willing to sit down and review business models with them to take a look at what commercial agreements we can arrive at,” he added.

Panlilio said PLDT is “in the process of forging a mutually acceptable agreement with PISO with the help of some members of the House of Representatives.” The agreement will include the opening up of PLDT’s DSL infrastructure if both groups approve the commercial terms and conditions.

Computerworld Philippines tried to get comments from PISO president Jojie Yap, but she declined.

In a previous interview, PLDT vice president for media and communications Menardo Jimenez Jr. had disclosed that PLDT last year was willing to sit down with PISO officials to discuss terms for the possible opening of PLDT’s DSL service to ISPs. But the carrier balked after PISO filed formal protests with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

The case has been pending with the NTC. The last hearing was held in December last year, during which the NTC asked to be given more time than the usual 15 days to come up with a decision.

News reports (not by Computerworld Philippines) published during the previous week stated that PLDT was cutting by half the rates for leased lines subscribed to by ISPs. An unknown group had reportedly pressured PLDT into lowering its leased line rates.

PLDT quickly denied these reports, saying that it does not bow to pressure from any group.

“When you say leased line, it only means the trunk lines and not the data leased lines. There is some confusion in terms of leased lines as digital data varies from voice. The data leased line is different from the E1/R2 that they are referring to,” explained Panlilio.

PISO has repeatedly complained against PLDT’s pricing structure. In its formal protest, PISO said PLDT was charging them too much for dial-up and dedicated leased lines while offering the DSL service at a relatively low price

At present, ISPs pay PLDT 3,700 pesos (US$71) per month for every phone line they use to provide Internet access to each of their customers. However, PLDT is offering its own Internet access services through MyDSL and Vibe. MyDSL users are only charged 2,500 pesos per month, an amount PISO claimed is much less than what the phone firm collects from ISPs for an ordinary dial-up line.