Telcos told to submit rollout plans

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    The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has ordered all public telecommunications entities to submit to the commission their respective rollout plans for this year to better monitor their progress in helping the country improve its global ranking on internet speed.

    The NTC in a statement said information on strategies will enable the commission to extend telcos assistance for the smooth implementation of their rollout plans.
    The deadline was yesterday, Jan. 20, 2021.

    The NTC said it has informed the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) the commission shall push for front-loaded implementation of telcos’ rollout plans, particularly for the first two quarters in time for President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address this July.

    According to NTC, bi-monthly meetings will also be conducted with the DICT and the telcos to ensure compliance with the submitted rollout plans.

    The NTC and DICT shall help the telcos with any challenges they encounter in implementing the roll-out plans, particularly “red tape” challenges.

    The NTC said monthly measurement of internet speeds will continue.

    Despite challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s internet speed continued to improve based on Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index for December 2020.

    With close to 120 million tests conducted in the Philippines in 2020, Ookla reported a 297.47 percent improvement on the country’s internet average download speed for fixed broadband and 202.41 percent for mobile broadband, compared to 2016 speeds.  The country’s average download speed for fixed broadband improved from 7.91Mbps (July 2016) to 31.44Mbps (December 2020), while average download speed for mobile broadband also improved from 7.44Mbps (July 2016) to 22.50Mbps (December 2020).

    Third major telco player DITO’s launch commercially on March 2021 have prompted incumbents Globe and Smart to increase capital expenditures significantly to P90 billion and P92 billion, respectively, in 2021.  Both investments are the highest annually for each telco for the past six years.

    DITO, meanwhile, plans to go head on with the incumbents fulfilling its commitment of spending P150 billion last year for its infrastructure roll-out.

    DICT’s common tower policy also aims to immediately address the improvement of telecom services across the country.

    Globe earlier reported it has finalized partnerships with 11 tower companies, while Smart signified that it has already agreements with nine tower companies.  DITO has also sealed agreements with three tower companies.

    DITO earlier reported the number of towers it has completed to date, on top of the number of towers being constructed by independent tower contractors, is sufficient to serve the 37 percent population coverage which the telco committed for its first audit this month.

    Building additional towers is seen to be essential in drastically increasing internet speeds to enable the country to be more competitive globally.