Globe calls for reforms to speed up building of cell sites
Industry giant Globe Telecom is calling for reforms to address issues it says have been hampering the rollout of crucial cell sites nationwide.
Globe and rival PLDT Inc. have been on the receiving end of complaints about poor service quality.
The telcos said this was partly due to the lack of cell sites and bottlenecks in the permitting process at the local government unit level, which could take months to resolve.
“Hopefully, in the long term, we can either amend or find a way to override local government powers over cell sites so we can build and deploy a lot more,” Gil Genio , Globe chief technology and information officer, said in a statement issued on Monday.
According to Globe, there are about 17,850 cell sites in the Philippines, while close neighbor Vietnam has about 90,000 sites.
Cell towers are shared by their users — meaning that an increase in their density typically leads to better mobile services such as calls and internet access.
Globe again noted that it would take about 25 permits to build a single cell site. The process, sometimes exposed to corruption under unscrupulous public officials, would take an average of eight months.
“There is a mechanism that can be found in order to be able to fast track cell site deployment,” Genio said. “The Ease of Doing Business Law in the Philippines, assuming we can get the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) out of the way, promotes transparency in the permitting process. If everything is predictable and consistent across local governments, then we can build and invest much more cell site.”
Globe also noted the lack of support from the national government when it comes to investing in ICT-related infrastructure such as cell sites and submarine cables. A faster pace of deployment would be needed as the Philippines transitions to 5G, the company said.
This is changing, however, under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology is leading the way in encouraging tower builders to sign agreements with the telco providers.
In return, it promises to help facilitate the processing of permits for an initial 50,000 cell sites across the country.
The Duterte administration is also building cable landing stations in Luzon that will help boost its public internet initiatives. /atm
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