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To NTC on telcos’ poor internet service: Crack the whip if you must!

Senator Win Gatchalian urged the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to compel the telecommunications companies to speed up the construction of new cell towers to finally address the country’s connectivity needs.


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – A faculty member facilitates an online class from the Western Mindanao State University Social Hall, 5 Nov. 2020 file. Senator Win Gatchalian said that all the needed mechanisms are already in place to expedite the construction of more telco towers to address the country’s connectivity needs following the enactment of the Bayanihan To Recover As One Act. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

“All the needed mechanisms are already in place to expedite the construction of telecommunication towers to improve internet services following the enactment last year of the Bayanihan To Recover As One Act. I see no reason why we continue to suffer from unstable and unreliable internet connectivity,” he said.

Gatchalian, Vice Chairperson of the Senate Public Services Committee, was referring to the provisions under Bayanihan 2 which temporarily suspended some requirements to streamline regulatory procedures to be able to secure permits and clearances for the construction of telecommunications and internet infrastructures.

Data from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) showed that as of February 18, 2021, a total of 2,860 permits and clearances in 460 cities and municipalities were approved while 848 permits and clearances in 264 cities and municipalities are still pending. The country still needs additional 50,000 towers to adequately connect the entire country. Currently, there are 20,000 existing towers nationwide.

“Habang patuloy ang pandemya, lumalawak ang pangangailangan natin sa internet connectivity. Mawawalan ng saysay ang pinagsumikapan nating batas kung hindi naman ito naipatutupad. Hindi rin natin ramdam ang naiulat na bumilis na mobile internet speed,” Gatchalian added.

According to Ookla Speedtest Global Index, the country’s internet speed both in the fixed broadband and mobile internet categories continued to improve in February from January this year.

Meanwhile, Gatchalian is also pushing for the Better Internet Act (Senate Bill No. 1831), which he co-authored, requiring all public telecommunication entities and internet service providers to increase service coverage and deliver a minimum standard for internet connection speed.