PH Internet Gets Boost from Fast Roll-out of Towers, Fiber optics

Published December 9, 2020, 8:30 PM

by Edgard Hilario

BELIEVING that fiber optic networks provide the fundamentals for telecommunication as they complement the shared base tower infrastructure, the National Telecommunications Commission has requested various government agencies to include fiber optics in the streamlining of the permitting process.

During a hearing of the Committee on Public Services at the Senate, NTC Commissioner Atty. Gamaliel Cordoba revealed that the commission requested the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Public Works and Highways,  the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development and the Anti-Red Tape Authority for the fiber optic inclusion in the permitting process in coordination with the concerned national government agencies and local government units.

“Inclusion of fiber optic cable permits in the streamlining process will establish seamless integration between fiber optic cable and wireless technologies, critical components of the country’s national broadband network,” Cordoba told the Senate committee. For fiber optics, the combined footprint of PLDT, Globe, Converge and DITO has reached 534,960 cable-kilometers by November 2020, an increase of 135,7727 from last year’s 399,233.

As a result of this, fixed broadband internet speed increased by 262.70 percent as of November 2020, while mobile broadband likewise grew by 148.52 percent, compared to July 2016 tests by Ookla Speed Test Global Index.

“We noticed that there is fast roll-out of towers and fiber optic cables, that’s why there is an increase in internet speed,” he said. This is due to the sharp increase in the issuance of permits to telecommunications companies by local government units to build cell site towers and fiber optic networks following the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to streamline and speed up the process or they will face sanctions.

For the month of November alone, at least 1,054 construction permits have been issued, bringing the total number of permits approved to 4,644 since July 2020, or an average of 929 permits per month. Permits issued to Globe surged to 590 percent during the period, while Smart rose to 150 percent.

The combined number of towers built by DITO, Globe and Smart 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. Cordoba said he expects the internet service to further improve along with the rates for the consumers, as the competition among industry players become more intense once DITO starts its commercial operations, combined with the entry of RED Broadband and the aggressive positioning of Converge.