President Rodrigo Duterte has once again scolded the telecommunications players in the Philippines, saying he will open up the country to foreign companies if Globe and PLDT do not shape up.
But what’s really behind the bad service? According to Yoly Cristanto, corporate communications head of Globe Telecom, it’s the number of cell towers that defines how fast — or how slow — one’s internet connection is. Simply put, the more cell sites there are, the better the service.
The bad news is that the telcos are having a hard time putting up cell towers because of red tape. At least 25 permits are needed to build just one tower, and these permits have to be signed by the local government unit (LGU), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the barangay officials, homeowners’ associations, and more. The sheer number of signatories results in processing time of at least eight months per tower. In fact, Globe currently has a backlog of 3,000 towers nationwide which it cannot build yet because of red tape.
Worse, the number of permits is virtually an open invitation for corruption. Veteran journalist Cito Beltran, speaking to Davao City mass communications students recently, said an official can command up to P350,000 in grease money; non-payment results in delays for the telcos, which is exactly what is happening now. This needs to be addressed, with crooked officials punished accordingly, because the corrupt practices of a few are making the rest of us suffer slow and unreliable internet connection.
One of Duterte’s campaign promises is to force telcos to provide better services, but really, the ball is in government’s court. Cristanto says opening up the country to foreign players is fine, but these companies will still hit a snag when it comes to securing permits. The Duterte administration needs to help in the following areas:
- ensuring government roadworks won’t cut fiber cables;
- addressing right of way issues that require several permits to roll out fiber in residential areas and other highly-populated areas like public transportation terminals; and
- cutting red tape in the securing of permits.
Check out the video below and spread the word about the need for LGUs to help ensure #1stWorldInternetPH. Tag your city’s social media account so they’ll know you want faster internet infrastructure built in your area.