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Benitez files bill on ‘roll-over’ data

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

All internet service providers (ISPs) may soon be required to provide affordable options on Internet data subscriptions, including subscriptions plans and promos with data rollover, if House bill 4440, authored by Negros Occidental 3rd district Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez, is approved by Congress.

In his proposed bill, which he filed on September 5, Benitez said that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of government bureaucracies, businesses and schools, driving an increase in Internet adoption and use around the world.

At the onset of the pandemic in January 2020, he reported that there were 73 million Internet users in the Philippines, which increased to 76.01 million, two years after, with the youth among the prolific users.

Benitez also noted the shift from in-person classes to distance learning and the promotion of remote work at the height of the pandemic has increased reliance on the Internet among students and professionals.

He further noted that the demand for Internet also exposed the wide digital divide in the country, where many do not have access to affordable, fast Internet.

The pandemic thus highlighted the need for urgent interventions to enhance Internet infrastructure and regulatory structure to improve not just access to, but also the quality of its services in the country, Benitez said.

Among the interventions, he cited, is to mandate all ISPs to provide affordable options on Internet data subscriptions, including subscriptions plans and promos with data rollover. Instead of unused data expiring at the end of the subscription period, it will be added to your data allocation for the following subscription period, or until the end of the calendar year, Benitez said.

This effectively lowers the cost of Internet data and saves the user money that they could use for other needs – a great help for students in blended or distance learning set ups, and workers who choose remote work options, he further said.

Data rollover guarantees that users will get the most from and enjoy to the fullest the data allocation that they pay for, he also said.*

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