SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
27 November 2020 10:08:48 PM
The House Committee on Information and Communications Technology chaired by Tarlac Rep. Victor Yap on Friday met online with officials of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to discuss the current status of the network infrastructure in the country. Yap said the panel would also tackle concerns affecting the telecommunications services such as connectivity, the failure of telecommunications companies (telcos) to deliver their expected services to their customers, inadequacy of network infrastructures, and spectrum fees and management, among others. In his presentation, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba gave a short history of the infrastructure roll-out. He said unlike the rest of the world that mainly rolled-out telecom infrastructure for voice service, the Philippines took texting as the main application. This technology did not require construction of many towers until the era of the smartphone began in 2012. Seeing the revenue potential from texting, local government units (LGUs) came up with so many permits and recurring annual fees for revenue regulation. Cordoba said the red tape and its costs were felt as telcos started overhauling their network for 3G and 4G. He said adding towers also got mired in red tape starting in 2013. But despite these problems, Cordoba said from 2016 to the present, improvements in internet speed for both fixed and mobile broadband has been monitored. Cordoba also said the COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of community quarantine by the government has changed the way data is being consumed by Filipinos today. He said the internet is noticeably stable throughout the country during this crisis – from gaming to video streaming, video conferencing, online banking, work from home connectivity and commercial transactions. Although problems occurred when online learning started, these were addressed. Cordoba also gave a third telco update. He said DITO Telecommunity Corporation’s timeline for commercial launch is on March 2021. The NTC is asking assistance and support from Congress for the following: 1) Increase of the DICT budget for National Broadband; 2) Remove 60-40 nationality requirement; 3) Mandate Telco-ready buildings; 4) Subdivisions should provide utility areas for telco-infra; 5) Increase the penalty that NTC can impose; and 6) Pass into law the Open Access Bill. Meanwhile, Quirino Rep. Junie Cua recommended that telcos should take advantage of the provision under the Bayanihan 2 Law which provides for the temporary suspension of requirements to secure permits and clearances for the construction of telecommunications and infrastructure for a period of three years.