DICT, NTC urge DPWH to amend right-of-way rules to speed up ICT infra rollout
Robie de Guzman • October 21, 2020 • 1011
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Wednesday called on the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to look into the feasibility of amending the policy on the right-of-way to expedite the rollout of ICT infrastructure.
In a statement, the DICT said the agency and the NTC recently wrote to the DPWH urging it to consider Department Order 73 which provides for the right-of-way rules and regulations.
The DICT said the DPWH department order currently prohibits “posts and towers of Electric Cooperatives and Major Electric Power Distribution; distribution lines; posts for cable of phones and mobile service providers” along all national roads.”
The department said this prohibition results in difficulties for public telecommunication entities as they proceed with the implementation of their roll-out plans for critical backbone and last mile connectivity.
In its letter to DPWH Secretary Mark Villar dated Sept. 21, the DICT and NTC recalled their joint commitment under the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed during the First Philippine Telecoms Summit on May 08, 2017.
The MOA stated that the agencies agreed to amend or revise D.O. 73, s. 2014 to institute more conducive right-of-way regulations to accelerate the deployment of ICT infrastructure.
After the MOA signing, the DPWH held various technical working group (TWG) meetings with representatives from the DICT, NTC, telcos, cable operators as well as other stakeholders.
Proposed amendments to D.O. 73 are also highlighted as one of the priorities of the recently established Telecommunications Monitoring Group (TMG).
The TMG is an inter-agency body comprised of members from the DICT, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC), Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), and the Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP).
DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said, “the indispensable use not just of telecommunications, but also of the Internet and other information services in the new normal, highlights the urgent need for equitable access to affordable, quality and reliable ICT connectivity.”
The DICT chief believes that ICT connectivity will only be possible through the accelerated rollout of ICT networks and infrastructure.
“So our priority is to develop enabling policies that address the private sectors’ complaints against red tape that serve as a cause of delay in the rollout of infrastructure for both telecommunications as well as information services,” he added.
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on Thursday expressed support for the initiative of its attached agency, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), to streamline the permitting process for the installation of fiber optic cables.
The DICT said the NTC is requesting concerned government agencies to streamline the permitting processes for fiber optic cables similar to Joint Memorandum Circular No.1 s. 2020, which streamlines the issuance of permits, licenses, and certificates for the construction of shared passive telecommunications tower infrastructure.
These concerned agencies were the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA).
The move seeks to facilitate seamless integration of fiber optic cable and wireless technologies that are both critical components of the country’s broadband network, it added.
“The DICT is currently fast-tracking the implementation of the National Broadband Program – our Department’s initiative in building a government-owned broadband network for better, more affordable and more extensive Internet connectivity in the country,” DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II said in a statement.
“We welcome all initiatives that will complement the NBP, including efforts to improve ICT infrastructures in the private sector side,” he added.
The NTC said in its letter to the DICT and the said concerned agencies that the joint memorandum circular signed in July this year has proven to be effective in facilitating the addition of required base towers in the Philippines leading to improvements in wireless coverage and technologies.
The DICT said the NTC also aims to fast-track the deployment of fiber optic networks, the fundamental telecommunication infostructure needed to address the country’s ICT needs along with addressing the wireless component of telecommunications.
NTC said it is presently coordinating with the DPWH for possible amendments in Department Order No. 73 s. 2014 which provides for guidelines for right-of-way concerns in the deployment of fiber optic networks along national roads and bridges.
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate committee on national defense and security, on Thursday urged the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to aim for an “excellent” speed of internet connection.
Lacson made the remark in response to the view of DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II that the Philippines “is not doing too badly” in terms of internet speed performance during his agency’s 2021 budget hearing in Congress.
“With all due respect to a highly regarded Cavalier and distinguished former Senate colleague, “not so bad” may sound worse than ‘not so good,’” he said in a statement.
Honasan earlier said that while other countries have 55 megabytes per second (mbps) internet speeds, the 3 to 7mbps internet speed in the country “is not that bad” amid complaints over slow speed.
“In the middle of a pandemic when the order of the day is virtual communication, what we want to hear, at least realistically, is ‘good enough,’” Lacson said.
“Of course, it goes without saying, ‘very good’ or even ‘excellent’ is what we all want to hear from DICT. Clearly, there is much room for improvement,” he added.
According to the DICT, the country’s current internet speed could reach up to 25.07mbps, compared to the maximum 7.91mbps in 2016.
The agency said the country’s slower internet connection is due to lack of telecommunications infrastructure compared to other countries that have fix broadbands which require lots of telecommunication towers and fiber optic cables.
Senator Grace Poe is urging the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) and telecommunication companies (Telcos) to submit by July 13 their plan on improving internet service in the country.
Poe wants to determine how many more towers telcos plan to build in the coming years to give the Filipinos better online experience especially with the high demand for better internet service due to effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Agencies and telcos need a nudge to act as fast as they can to bring the internet to everyone’s homes,” she said.
A boost in connectivity would also help students and teachers with online learning, Poe added. It is also crucial for businesses that operate through online transactions.
“Nararanasan nating lahat ang mababang kalidad ng ating connection, kaya importante talaga na ang mga telco ay mag-deliver sa kanilang pangako na magpatayo ng mas maraming cell site (We have all experienced poor internet connection that is why it is important for telcos to deliver on their promise to build more cell sites),” she said. AAC
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