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Philippines to improve telco services to meet ‘new normal’ demands

To combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is improving communications and connectivity services available to the public.

Accelerating ICT infrastructure buildup and improving telecommunications services are critical as the need for internet access surges due to social, economic, and educational demands.

In a memorandum dated from March, DICT directed the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to monitor the compliance of all operating mobile network operators (MNOs) and internet service providers (ISPs) to provide ample bandwidth allocation and availability of service and signal.

NTC directed all MNOs and ISPs to submit their business continuity plans detailing measures taken to ensure uninterrupted service and to address the increased demand for ICT services, a press release informed.

In a report to the DICT on its current progress, DITO Telecommunity is on track for its March 2021 commercial launch. They reported the successful series of local and international test phone calls made, with the last of the first test calls made on 27 March 2020, almost two months earlier than the May 2020 milestone as stated in the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) granted to them by the government.

The organisation has begun limited user testing and have discussed its plans of expanding this within the next few months under the friendly user test.

It has activated a significant number of sites wherein phone calls and connection to the internet is possible. It has put-up 1,300 towers on top of the Common Tower Agreements with Independent Tower Contractors they have secured.

Despite delays in scheduled material supplies, more than 250 tower sites are now operational, integrated, and on-air, and interim network operation centres are in place to allow limited internet connection and phone calls.

Concerning the delay caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the NTC issued a resolution extending the July 2020 technical audit under the CPCN provisions.

Under the current extension, DITO is given within six months to deliver the commitments for the technical audit requirements- that is to provide a speed of 27 megabits per second to cover 37% of the population.

Further, telco giant Globe is strategising ways to revamp and upscale its services to meet the growing demand for connectivity in the country.

It is looking into building cell sites in public schools to ease the transition to blended learning and digital education as face-to-face classes are prohibited according to social distancing measures of the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF).

These private-sector efforts are concurrent with DICT’s strategic issuance of a department circular, which provides for the guidelines on shared passive telecommunications tower infrastructure (PTTIs).

The measures are expected to improve connectivity services and generate more economic opportunities across the country, in line with the Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-Asa Programme.

The private telecommunications industry serves a major part in achieving the DICT’s vision of a ‘Digital Philippines’.

The quality and coverage of the services they provide highly impact the overall ICT growth of the country, DICT Secretary, Gregorio B. Honasan II, said.

The need for reliable internet connectivity has never been more urgent. The government is accelerating and encouraging digital transformation for both the public and the private sectors to curb the effects of the pandemic on the country’s economy and the continued education of the youth.

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