Sonera: Clear Rules Sought On Ownership Cap

The national Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and the House of Representatives committee on information and communications technology will ask the Transportation and Communications department (DoTC) to clarify if mobile content providers are subject to foreign ownership limits.
    “All I want is a more level playing field,” House committee member Rep. Liwayway Vinzons-Chato of Camarines Norte said in an interview.
    She filed last week House Resolution No. 498, asking the committee to “conduct an investigationinto the operations of mobile content developers, aggregators, providers and suppliers to determineif the nature of their business necessitates legislation of a minimum nationality requirement.”
    The lawmaker questioned an NTC order barring Zed Philippines, Inc. from offering its services in the country, for allegedly violating the 40% foreign ownership cap imposed by the Constitution on telecommunications firms.
    Zed Philippines, a subsidiary of Sonera Zed Ltd. of Finland, argued that there was no rule requiring value-added service providers to be majority-owned by Filipinos. Ms. Vinzons-Chato agreed that the constitutional provision the NTC relied on did not explicitly say that content providers are telecom firms, hence, subject to foreign ownership cap.
    An NTC official, who refused to be identified, said that while the regulator believes that mobile content providers should be covered by the foreign ownership cap, the regulator and members of the House committee had agreed in that hearing to ask DoTC to clarify this matter.

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