“The current digital infrastructure of the country is still not enough to realize an affordable and fast Internet connectivity,” Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Undersecretary for Digital Philippines Emmanuel Caintic revealed during a recent online forum.

“One of the major issues we have identified is the regulatory constraints that hinder telecommunications companies to further invest in infrastructure of the country,” he elaborated.

For this reason, the DICT will launch an online portal to assure that registration of companies engaged in the business of establishing or operating the shared cell towers are properly monitored for all parties concerned.

“The system shall present dashboards that showcase the status of each registration and application submitted so they will actually know which particular application is getting stranded at which particular point, and which agency all the way to the area and to the location,” Caintic explained.

DICT also launched  “Telecom Tower Watch” to address delays in building digital infrastructure.

The department partnered with consumer advocacy group CitizenWatch Philippines for the multi-sectoral monitoring initiative.

Already, telcos  have been spending close to half of their revenues to build their digital infrastructure,  says Globe Telecom Inc. Vice President for Site Acquisition and Management Vince Tempongko in the same forum.

Still, ‘We will need government help to fast-track our requirements further,” he maintained.

“We were able to get 1,900 permits from July to November 2020 and this is almost six times more than what we got in the same timeframe in the previous year,”  Tempongko noted.

“This allowed us to build 1,300 cell site towers in 2020, 18 percent more than what we built in 2019, again this is in spite of the almost three-month Extended Community Quarantine (ECQ).”

Despite the directives of the Joint Memorandum Circular and Bayanihan II to speed up permitting timelines, Smart Communications Inc. encountered several problems with local government units (LGUs), Vice-president for Regulatory Affairs, Atty. Roy Ibay acknowledged.

“Some LGUs are still imposing unjust, excessive, oppressive, and confiscatory regulatory fees,” he disclosed.

“When you protest, they use that non-payment of this regulatory fees to withhold issuance of building and other local permits.”

Some LGUs and barangays continue to impose requirements and fees counter to the provisions under the Joint Memorandum Circular on Power Permitting and the Bayanihan Act II law, he reiterated.

Since the government issued the Joint Memorandum Circular last year, Smart secured 13,000 fixed and wireless permits.

As of end 2020, Smart has rolled out more than 10,000 sites and over 59,000 base stations, as its mobile networks cover 96% of the population. 

Parent firm PLDT has expanded its fiber footprint to over 429,000 kilometers.

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/03/16/dict-ph-current-digital-infrastructure-inadequate/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dict-ph-current-digital-infrastructure-inadequate)