Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr. conducted a special press briefing on Tuesday, December 8, a special non-working holiday in commemoration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed into law as Republic Act No. 10966, to provide an update on the state of the telecommunications industry in the country.
This is in view of President Duterte’s remarks for telecommunications companies to improve their services before December this year.
“Kung inyong matatandaan, noong ikalimang State of the Nation Address ni Presidente Rodrigo Roa Duterte, kanyang sinabi, and I quote, ‘Kindly improve your services before December, tell us now if you cannot really improve on it, because I will work…. The next two years will be spent improving the telecommunications of this country without you,’” Secretary Roque said.
The Palace spokesman said that the President is aware of the complaints of the Filipino people with regards to the services of the telecoms companies. This is why President Duterte asked local government units (LGUs) to fast-track the release of permits for telecoms companies to be able to build more towers and improve their services.
NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said that President Duterte’s political will to see improvement in the country’s telecoms industry evidently resulted in some improvement in telecoms companies’ services. Commissioner Cordoba reported that from July to November 2020, construction permits issued to Globe has increased to 590 percent, while for Smart, the increase was 190 percent. This has brought the total number of construction permits issued to telcos to 4,644 from July to November this year.
According to the NTC, with the increase in issuance of construction permits, telcos were able to built more telecoms towers, bringing to 2,510 the total number of additional towers or physical sites built by the telcos within the period from July to November.
Both Smart and Globe agree though that there is still room for further improvement as both telcos aim to initiate several more changes to their products and services next year.
Smart President Al Panlilio said that they have already built some 10, 069 cell sites, 58, 538 base stations, and 29, 526 4G base stations. Panlilio reported that Smart’s investments in the past five years has reached P260-Billion, and in 2019 alone, the company has invested P73-Billion. He added that Smart will invest more in fiber services and wireless coverage in the coming years.
For the part of Globe, President Ernest Cu said that the company had invested some P255-Billion in terms of total capital expenditure in the last six years, and that in 2020, Globe spent P50-Billion for capital expenditure. Cu said that with President Duterte’s directive to LGUs to fast-track the issuance of permits, Globe was issued a total of 1,857 permits from July to November 2020 that allowed the company to build new cell sites and upgrade sites to 4G/LTE. Globe’s new cell sites increased by 18 percent in the current year compared to last year, while the sites upgraded to 4G/LTE exceeded by 15 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.
Meanwhile, Atty Adel Tamano, Chief Administrative Officer of Dito presented key developments in their franchise, including having built already over 1,900 towers. Tamano’s presentation also showed that Dito’s testing for 5G calls in the NCR has already been completed, as the company hopes to have its commercial launch in March 2021.
Internet Service Provider Converge likewise presented some of its accomplishments including the roll-out of high speed fiber ports by regions. Converge Chief Operating Officer Jesus Romero said that they already have 3.5 million high speed fiber ports and plans to add some 1.8 million ports in 2021. Romero said that the company is also continuously building its backbone, including a domestic submarine backbone with a bigger capacity.
On the part of the Palace, Sec. Roque said that the government acknowledges the improvements that the telcos have done for the telecoms industry. Roque however reiterated that the telcos’ franchises are a privilege and reminded them that it is the right of the people to be given good telecoms services.
“I think we are one in recognizing na we need to be world-class and that is where what Commissioner Cordoba’s statement is relevant. Let us know what you need from government dahil ang importante po mabigyan ng world-class service ang sambayanang Pilipino,” Roque said. ### OPS-PCOO