Fast rollout of fiber optics sought

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    The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) urged government agencies to include fiber optics in the streamlining of the permitting process.

    Gamaliel Cordoba, NTC commissioner, told a hearing of the Senate committee on public services last week, said fiber optic networks provide the fundamentals for telecommunication as they complement the shared base tower infrastructure.

    “Inclusion of fiber optic cable permits in the streamlining process will establish seamless integration between fiber optic cable and wireless technologies, critical components of the country’s national broadband network,” Cordoba said.

    He said NTC has noted the fast roll-out of towers and fiber optic cables due to the sharp increase in the issuance to telecommunications companies by local government units permits to build cell site towers and fiber optic networks.

    This was following the order of President Duterte to streamline and speed up the process.

    But Cordoba said the process in securing permits to lay down fiber optic cables should also be streamlined by the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development and the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA).

    Meanwhile, ARTA said 9,737 permits had been issued to the three telecommunication companies in the country from July to December.

    Smart Communications Inc. received the most number of permits with 5,632 followed by new player Dito Telco Corporation with 2, 311 and Globe Telecom Inc with 1,857 for wired and wireless projects around the country.

    ARTA director-general Jeremiah Belgica, in a briefing yesterday, said some of the delays were due to incomplete submission of requirements and non-payment of fees by the applying telecommunication companies who claimed that delay was due to the delay of the release of the order of payments from the LGUs.

    Belgica said to date, the number of permits required from the telecommunication companies had been reduced to eight from 13 and the requirements to 35 from 86 while the processing period had been reduced to 16 days from 241 days.

    NTC said for fiber optics, the combined footprint of PLDT, Globe, Converge and DITO has reached 534,960 cable-kilometers by November 2020, an increase of 135,7727 from last year’s 399,233.

    As a result, fixed broadband internet speed increased by 262.70 percent as of November 2020, while mobile broadband also grew by 148.52 percent, compared to July 2016 tests by Ookla Speed Test Global Index.