THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) blamed anew homeowners’ associations (HOAs) and local government units for the dismal mobile and internet services, saying that red tape and continued refusal in the issuance of permits remained a major impasse in improving telco services in the country.
During the agency’s budget hearing on Thursday, DICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima said that there weren’t enough cell sites to enable telco operators to sufficiently support mobile data growth in the Philippines.
Aside from permitting issues at the local government level, exclusive and gated villages or subdivisions also prevented telco providers from installing facilities to provide services in their areas.
Amid clamor for faster internet service, Salalima is urging Congress to pass a bill that will compel these HOAs and LGUs to act on permits within an specific period to allow the faster construction cell sites and other telecommunication facilities.
“This is a problem of national significance. If only someone would pass a law that would require these associations and LGUs to issue permits in a speedier manner,” Salalima told lawmakers.
“What happens to our fast internet if we cant construct facilities? That is why (I) am urging lawmakers to pass a bill that would set a shorter deadline in issuing permits. For telcos, let’s say that the permitting process should only be a week’s time,” he added.
Globe Telecom said that it usually took at least eight months to complete the approval process, which involves at least 25 permits, for the construction of a cell site.
In addition to bureaucratic red tape, Globe said that the absence of standard fees among local government units also bred corruption. For instance, tower fees range between P5,000-P200,000 depending on the LGU concerned.
Based on the latest report of TowerXchange, the Philippines only has around 16,300 towers compared with Vietnam’s 70,000 towers.
“Mobile coverage remained low compared to Vietnam simply because this big subdivisions are preventing telcos from constructing the necessary facilies to improve the range of cell sites,” he said.
“It is difficult to address the internet speeds if we can’t construct facilities within these subdivisions,” he added.