Cebu officials back move to improve telco services
Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, Iris Hazel M. Mascardo, Mary Ruth R. Malinao (The Freeman) - July 28, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Cebu officials are backing President Rodrigo Duterte on moves to improve the services of the country’s telecom companies.

During his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday, Duterte warned telecom companies of the possibility of getting shut down if they fail to improve their services before December this year.

Cebu City South District Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa said he will file a bill in Congress “for the government, through an inter-agency body comprised of representatives from existing departments like DICT, NTC, DPWH, DILG and LGUs, to take over the construction and operation of hard infrastructure facilities such as the cell sites of all telcos.”

“With the government’s power to expropriate land properties for public use, and with better coordination with the LGUs, the propagation and redundancy of cell sites can be greatly facilitated. These shared facilities will level the playing field for both old and new telco players, and promote competition for the best service the people deserve," Abellanosa said.

Sixth District Rep. Emmarie Ouano-Dizon, meanwhile, said internet is a basic need of today’s generation.

“To this generation, internet is a basic need. It benefits everyone, regardless kung kinsa ka, or asa ka. It encompasses everything like e-governance, e-commerce that gives livelihood opportunities to millions, and on-line education. Just like food and shelter, it is not easy to survive the times without the internet kay parte na kini sa kinabuhi, ug panginabuhi, so dako kaayo atong pasalamat ni President Duterte for his promise to shape up the telecom sector," she said.

In Cebu City, Mayor Edgardo Labella said improved services of telcos are long overdue as internet connectivity is critical for workers and students alike.

"It was a need most because that has been long overdue," Labella said.

Vice Mayor Michael Rama also said, “Because we are into pursuing a new approach of education so we need really serious help, and not only serious help, expected support from utilities like Globe, Smart and others," he said.

Rama said the needed technology capabilities have to be available, especially in the far flung areas.

Councilor Alvin Dizon also commended Duterte’s call to improve the telecommunication services.

Talisay City Mayor Gerald Anthony Gullas also supports the President.

"I also agree with him for the need for faster and better connectivity to be provided by our telco companies. Better and faster internet and mobile connectivity will be greatly useful, especially that the President is firm in his decision to not allow students to undergo face-to-face classes nationwide. The president has made a clear message that he is with us in our call for our the right services when it comes to internet and mobile connectivity," he said.

Globe Statement

In a statement issued last night, Globe said it will heed Duterte’s call.

It said that service performance and increased consumer demand for data are the key reasons why it has invested billions of dollars to upgrade and improve its network.

“This year Globe has earmarked 1.2 billion US dollars in capex, majority of which goes to network and capacity builds.  These substantial investments are paying off as we experience marked service improvements. Today, the Globe network is running at 4G/LTE. Last year, we launched 5G for Globe At Home and soon we will be launching mobile 5G services in the country. Globally, we are being cited for having improved internet experience. Only recently, independent mobile analytics Open Signal ranked the Philippines as the 4th most improved country in mobile video experience.  The ranking was included in its State of Mobile Network Experience in 2020 report.”

It, however, pointed out the challenges faced by the telecom industry.

“Although we have seen marked improvements, the industry is not without its challenges. The long drawn permitting process across LGUs, HOAs and national agencies including the DOH and CAAP have hampered cellsite builds and laying down of fiber to homes,” Globe said.

It said it is optimistic that the Joint Memorandum Circular 01s.2020 the DICT signed recently with other national agencies to fast track builds of telco towers “will finally lead the way to a more robust connectivity in the country and provide internet services to every Filipino.”

SONA Reactions

Labella described the SONA as comprehensive.

"Glad that President talked about how to revive the economy and focus on Build Build Build program. Also talked about support for MSMEs and thrust towards local tourism," said Labella.

Rama, for his part, said the SONA brought the seriousness of the President about education, stating that he himself would never allow face to face classes without the COVID-19 vaccine available.

"Which I am also in favor. There should never be a face to face because we cannot jeopardize the safety of our children. I am fully in accord with the President, very much," Rama said.

Asked if he was satisfied with the president’s report, Rama, said:

"It's not an easy SONA... You cannot be expecting superb because of the pandemic. We can never expect but he's trying his best to put all efforts."

Dizon said he would have wanted Duterte to present a clear roadmap and compass on how to address the coronavirus pandemic.   JMO (FREEMAN)

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