Cebu solon plans to file bill making it lawful for gov’t to take over telcos

By: Ador Vincent Mayol, Carla Gomez - @inquirerdotnet - Inquirer.net | August 11,2020 - 07:40 PM

CEBU CITY, Philippines—A member of the House of Representatives from Cebu City said he planned to file a bill to make it legal for the government to take over the construction and operation of telecommunications facilities like cell sites.

Toeing President Rodrigo Duterte’s line on two telco giants Smart and Globe, Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa, of the city’s south district, said the government can expropriate real property for public use. With better coordination with local government units, he said, “propagation and redundancy” of cell sites would be facilitated.

Duterte had ranted against Smart and Globe and threatened to shut them down and take over their facilities if services did not improve by December.

Telco officials, however, pinned the blame on red tape in acquiring permits to build cell sites in local government units. Permits take months to process, they complained, adding to the delay in providing better services.

Upon being told this, Duterte ordered the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to see to it that LGUs don’t hold up permits that telco firms needed to improve services.

In a press release, Abellanosa said “shared facilities will level the playing field for both old and new telco players and promote competition for the best service the people deserve.”

He said there was a need to address the President’s concern “as soon as possible.”

He said “of the many things that the President mentioned” in his State of the Nation Address last July 27, “I will seriously pick up for immediate legislation the issue of the very slow internet and broadband service in the country.”

In a press statement, Globe Telecom said it has been investing billions of dollars to upgrade and improve its network services due to increased consumer demand for data.

“We heed the call of the President to improve telco services,” said the Globe statement.

“Globally, we are being cited for having improved internet experience,” it said.

It added that proof of improving services was the ranking of the Philippines as fourth most improved in mobile video experience by mobile analytics company Open Signal.

“Although we have seen marked improvements, the industry is not without its challenges,” Globe said.

“The long drawn permitting process across LGUs, HOAs (homeowners associations), and national agencies have hampered cell site builds and laying down of fiber to homes,” it added.

Globe expressed optimism that the recently signed joint memorandum circular spearheaded by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) with other national agencies would help fast track building of telco towers and lead to improved connectivity and internet services.

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson agreed with the President’s call for telcos to improve services since technology and connectivity were needed in a new normal.

He said internet would also play a key role in alternative learning solutions.

“The Philippines is among the lowest when it comes to mobile and fixed line internet speed,” said the governor.

“Fast and reliable internet connection should be the norm rather than an expensive option,” he said.

TSB
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