LGUs cooperate in issuance of permits to build cell site towers

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    MORE than 1,000 construction permits to build cell site towers have been issued by local government units to telecommunication companies for the month of November alone, which is expected to translate to improved internet service soon.

    During the recent hearing of the Senate committee on public services, Gamaliel Cordoba, commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission, reported a sharp increase in the LGUs’ issuance of permits in response to President Duterte’s order to streamline and speed up the process or face sanctions.

    In all, 4,644 permits have been approved since July this year or an average of 929 permits per month. Permits issued to Globe surged to 590 percent during the period, while Smart’s rose to 150 percent.

    The combined number of towers built by the telco companies over a five-month period ending in November totaled 2,510, or an average of 502 towers per month. Overall, the country has 22,405 cell towers as of end-November.

    “The target of DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology) is to build 50,000 more towers,” Cordoba said.

    The NTC also said that despite a 500-percent surge in demand for connectivity, internet speed in the country increased amid the lockdown due to the pandemic, with the telco regulator seeing a more robust competition in the industry beginning 2021.

    “Since 2016 to the present, improvements in internet speed for both fixed and mobile broadbands have been monitored,” Cordoba said.

    “As of November 2020, fixed broadband increased by 262.70 percent, while mobile broadband likewise grew by 148.52 percent compared to July 2016 tests by Ookla Speed Test Global Index,” he added.

    Since 2015, Globe and Smart have been pouring in significant investments to improve connectivity and coverage, spending P50.3 billion and P70 billion, respectively. DITO, on the other hand, told the Senate panel that it has so far spent P150 billion for its roll-out and will commit to spend P257 billion over the next five years.