Service fees and product standards offered by telecommunications companies as well as the import of discarded electronic products were among the concerns raised by National Assembly (NA) members during a debate on the newly drafted Law on Information and Communication Technology.
The draft law was made available for NA consideration yesterday, with NA Vice President Dr Bounpone Bouttanavong presiding over the debate.
The available 3G and 4G internet signals have been a source of public complaint, with consumers saying that the quality of these services does not match what is advertised.
But many Assembly members found the explanation given by telecoms officials reasonable as they said that numerous customers are sharing a small bandwidth because providers cannot invest in the installation of larger bandwidth in this small market of about 5 million users.
Speaking at the debate, NA member for Savannakhet province Mr Sanya Praseuth referred to the explanation given by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications but said users were being taken advantage of as the services were not appropriate with the amount of money invested in obtaining 3G and 4G coverage.
He called on the drafting sub-committee to review the matter and make more comprehensive laws and standards governing the provision of 3G and 4G services.
NA member for Vientiane, Ms Valy Vetsaphong, said she agreed with the NA member for Savannakhet regarding service fees charged and standards upheld.
She pointed to the first point of Article 41 in the draft, which says service providers have an obligation to ensure full provision of the services, ensuring good quality and fast and fair services.
She questioned whether customers could check whether the speed of the internet package they used matched what they had ordered, asking for the matter to be stipulated by law.
“How can we check if the [megabytes] we have received from the provider equals what we paid for?” Ms Valy asked.
The use of old electronic equipment was another focus of the debate on the draft law, which mentions this matter in its eighth part, saying service providers may not import discarded electronic products or substandard ICT equipment.
Ms Valy and many others spoke out against the importation of items discarded by other countries, pointing to factories in Vientiane that recycle mobile phones and battery appliances, which they said caused environmental damage .
NA member for Xieng Khuang province, Mr Vilaysouk Phimmasone, said he wanted the importation of discarded electronic goods and substandard ICT equipment to be absolutely prohibited by this law.
But some NA members suggested that a prohibition on the importation of electronic waste should be reviewed and suggested it might be stipulated in another law.
They said such items do not comprise only ICT equipment but also household appliances.
The draft law was introduced to the session by the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Dr Thansamay Kommasith.
NA member for Vientiane, Ms Valy, who is also from the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, lodged her concerns on behalf of the Chamber and the ICT Business Operators Association.
Ms Valy said stakeholders in the sector who will be affected by any changes were not able to participate effectively in the drafting of the law.
Source: Vientiane Times