Leading telecommunications and digital services provider PLDT Inc. (PLDT) is calling for the harmonization of national policies and local government regulations to speed up the deployment of broadband infrastructure and support the vision to transform the Philippines into a digital nation.
Echoing an industry-supported resolution, PLDT suggested that a standard permit system be set up to minimize bureaucratic delays and strengthen stakeholder support for the rollout of network infrastructure to more areas in the country.
In a speech delivered at a recent summit hosted by the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) for government units and ICT players, PLDT and Smart Communications Senior Vice President for Network Services Mario G. Tamayo presented current challenges in the rollout of wired broadband infrastructure.
According to Tamayo, there are currently no standard fees in applying for permits. Particularly at the level of barangays and municipalities, telcos face different sets of permit fees and processing timelines.
Tamayo also said that PLDT has to deal with widespread cases of cable theft and fiber breaks due to digging activities for national and local public works. He reported that these third-party causes account for about 80% of service interruptions for the country’s largest telecoms provider.
“We are calling for a national consensus to harmonize policies and regulations in support of building digital data infrastructure. We also hope to deepen understanding of our people, at the community level, how vital telecoms infrastructure are to our lives. When these facilities are damaged or stolen, this harms our welfare as surely as when roads and bridges are washed away.”
Tamayo also proposed that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) allocate space for telecoms infrastructure in public highways to reduce right-of-way issues and expedite deployment of fiber facilities.
In anticipation of the continued growth of data traffic and digital services in the country, PLDT plans to increase the capacity of its data infrastructure by ten times come 2020. For 2016 alone, PLDT has allocated P48 billion capital expenditure to fortify and expand its fixed and wireless networks, including the utilization of its recently acquired 700 MHz spectrum frequency.
Currently, its fiber cable links span 140,000 kilometers, the most extensive fiber network in the country. These support fiber and DSL connections, as well as provide vital transport for the mobile networks of Smart and Sun.
PLDT has also significantly invested in landing stations and international cable links that connect the Philippines to the US, Europe, Australia and Africa. Having the most number of these in the country, the company says that these are important because 90% of Internet content accessed by Filipinos come from overseas, mostly from North America.