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The Philippines calls for internet boost

In his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) conducted on 27 June, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte called on concerned companies and agencies to implement appropriate measures to boost connectivity, promote e-governance, utilise ICT for education, and toughen the country’s cybersecurity.

The Department of Information and Communications (DICT) has announced its support for the President’s request, according to a press release.

DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II is encouraging telcos to support and avail of the benefits of the DICT’s Common Tower Initiative.

The Department expects this to stimulate the growth of the Independent Tower Company (ITC) sector and widen the base of Common Towers in the country towards better internet quality and more extensive telecommunications service coverage.

The Secretary said that the DICT maintains its position that the telcos’ collocation in the Common Towers, which are being rolled out across the country, will enable them to service the wider population, as well as deepen and enhance wireless network coverage and quality of ICT services that will contribute to a healthy, competitive ICT environment.

Collocating with Common Towers will also help telcos cut back on their expenses allocated in building up and maintaining their own towers; expenses which can be used to further upgrade their services.

Additionally, the Common Tower initiative is further bolstered by the provisions of the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) between DICT, Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Department of Health (DOH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The JMC significantly removes red tape by streamlining the procedures and requirements for permits, licenses, clearances, certificates, and other requirements in the construction of Shared Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructures (PTTI) or common towers—reducing processing time from 200 days to just 16 days.

The Department is encouraging telcos to take full advantage of the benefits of the initiative and engage with the ITC sector more actively, especially when it comes to providing connectivity to the unserved and underserved areas in the country.

Public and private sectors should work together towards a better, more robust, and future-proofed ICT environment.

Rest assured that the DICT is continuously implementing programs and initiatives as well as coordinating with relevant agencies and the ICT sectors in ensuring that the country is able to better utilise ICT for education and governance, the Secretary noted.

Furthermore, it is reinforcing cybersecurity efforts for the safety and resiliency of Filipinos during this crisis.
Last week, Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian stated, during a radio interview, that the entry of a third telco company player would mean better internet service to support remote education in the country amid the pandemic.

The Department of Education is set to implement blending learning this year amid the COVID-19 emergency health crisis. It will utilise, among others, distance learning, printed modules, and broadcast media to educate learners and keep them safe from the infection.

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