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Globe: Amend Local Gov't. Code to hasten installation of more cell sites

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Globe: Amend Local Gov't. Code to hasten installation of more cell sites
By Aerol B. Patena

MANILA, March 9 (PNA) -- Globe Telecom is pushing for the amendment of the Local Government Code to rationalize the permitting process for the installation of additional cell sites across the country.

Globe Chief Information and Technology Officer Gil Genio explained that bureaucratic red tape has caused significant delays in securing permits from the local government units (LGU) compromising the quality of mobile communications in the country.

“We have repeatedly emphasized that there is no substitute for government support in developing telco infrastructure in the country. We need the government to prioritize and enable the sector to undertake infrastructure builds, not just in the construction of cell sites but also in establishing underground facilities and in facilitating pole attachments,” Genio said.

He explained that the lack of cell sites is one of the reasons why Internet service is slow in the country.

The Philippines only has around 16,300 towers compared with Vietnam’s 70,000 towers, based on the latest report of online community TowerXchange.

The approval process for the construction of one cell site involves 25 permits which take at least eight months to complete. Furthermore, a number of LGUs impose tower fees ranging between PHP 5,000-PHP 200,000.

Uncooperative villages or subdivisions also hamper the ability of LGUs to further expand its communication facilities nationwide.

Close to 30 villages and subdivisions have rejected cell site proposals made by Globe, mainly due to health risks, thus preventing the company from proceeding with its network expansion plans.

Currently, Globe has a backlog of 3,000 cell sites amid varying degrees of permitting issues despite aggressive efforts by the company to invest in network facilities.

For his part, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Austere Panadero disclosed that the department is pushing for limiting the number of days for the issuance of building permits for additional cell sites.

The DILG is proposing that LGUs set policies that would ensure that the process for the building permits would involve 16 steps for 61 days compared to the current practice of 24 steps for 98 days.

He reiterated the need for collaboration between the government and the telco industry players.

“The Philippines deserves faster Internet that both businesses and government can benefit. There is a need for fast and effective Internet communication,” Usec. Panadero said in his address at the Philippine Telecommunication Summit held Thursday at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

A Memorandum of Agreement pledging for cooperation in the fast tracking and expediting of public services will be signed by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), DILG, Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), League of Provinces of the Philippines, National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), Philippine Chamber of Telecommunication Operators (PCTO), Globe and PLDT/Smart during the summit.

The DICT will also present a draft Executive Order (EO) that will mandate LGUs to expedite the processing of license and permits for additional cell sites within seven days. (PNA)

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