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Philippine Internet Coverage Improved with Empowered Fibre Deployment Efforts

Home broadband penetration in the Philippines has always been low, owing to the mobile platform’s dominance, which accounts for 97% of the total internet users in the country according to a report. The pandemic, on the other hand, prompted Filipinos to switch from mobile to home broadband for their internet needs, as demand for faster connectivity increased to support work, learning, and entertainment in the home increases.

Three months after an order issued by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) allowing telecom companies to construct infrastructure projects within the allowable right-of-way limits of national roads, the Philippines’ internet provider saw an improvement in its efforts to fibrise more homes and businesses.

The order has bolstered the company’s bid to extend fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) lines to more households in strategic areas across the country. Since the third week of March this year, the internet provider has been able to install FTTH lines, which are supplemented by 96 DWPH permits. The right-of-way order also enabled fiberisation to support Mobile Builds from 39 DPWH permits.

“The support of DPWH, and the government in general, will really allow us to decongest demand for internet connectivity in the highly-urbanised areas in the country. This will help us fast-track laying out our fibre cables to more households that are now more dependent on having reliable, fast, and accessible internet,” said the company’s Vice President for Programme Delivery, Network Technical Group.

The new Department Order No. 29, also known as the “DPWH Policy on Telecommunications and Internet Infrastructure Pursuant to Republic Act (RA) No. 11494,” relaxes previous right-of-way prohibitions, particularly on the construction of posts, by allowing excavations and restoration work for ICT infrastructure projects along with allowable right-of-way limits of national roads and highways. With the removal of such a major bottleneck, the company anticipates that site inspection and approval will be completed in a matter of days, rather than several weeks or even months in the past.

“This will make it faster for the company to bring high-speed broadband services to more homes and businesses through Fibre-to-the-Homes (FTTH) this year. We are confident we will hit our target of making one million fibre lines available this year,” he then added.

The order issued by the DPWH is in accordance with Bayanihan Acts 1 and 2, which streamline the requirements for obtaining permits from local government units and national government agencies for the installation of new cell towers.

OpenGov Asia reported that the business conglomerate’s CEO for ICT asserted that the tower activated by the telecommunication company was a Rapid Deployment Station (RDS) Telecom Tower in Valenzuela City offering a faster set-up structure that incorporates the tower body, fencing and foundation all in one. These structures can be deployed and dismantled in a matter of days, eliminating the need for extensive excavation and foundation construction.

The company has spent the majority of its P70 billion capital expenditure budget on data network construction to provide Filipinos with world-class internet connectivity. Furthermore, the internet service provider strongly supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), particularly UN SDG No. 9, which emphasises the importance of infrastructure and innovation as key drivers of economic growth and development.

As mobility restrictions are imposed to control the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), an increasing number of the OECD’s estimated 1.3 billion citizens are working and studying from home, and critical international policy coordination is now taking place online. Fixed and mobile broadband operators, content and cloud providers, and points where Internet networks connect to each other to exchange traffic, known as Internet exchange points (IXPs), are experiencing up to 60% more Internet traffic than before the outbreak. In this unprecedented situation, the resilience and capability of broadband networks have become even more critical.

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