Gov’t OKs 8 measures to upgrade digital connectivity

Published February 23, 2021, 6:29 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government has approved eight measures to further improve the country’s digital connectivity, including provisional approval of right-of-way for certain projects and a fixed table of regulatory fees imposed by local government units.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The proposals related to easing regulatory burdens, among others, to hasten the rollout of vital telecommunications infrastructure projects were approved by President Duterte and the Cabinet during a meeting in Malacañang Monday.

In a televised press briefing, Karlo Nograles said the proposal to provide provisional approval for Right of Way (ROW) for infrastructure projects of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), including the National Broadband Program Phase 1 and Luzon Bypass Infrastructure (LBI), was approved during Cabinet meeting.

Also endorsed was the issuance of a regulation for a fixed table of regulatory fees on ICT infrastructure in local government units.  Regulations on a standard fee for telcos to install and repair at the barangay level must also be issued, Nograles said.

The latest move comes amid government plans to pursue the National Broadband Program, free wi-fi for all program, and the national government data center.  An average of 5,000 towers are also expected to be built every year over the next three years, according to Nograles.

Other Department of Information and Communications proposals approved during the Cabinet meeting are the following:

– Issue a joint memorandum circular for fiber, common poles, and in-building solutions for national compliance;

– Allow telcos to continue work during emergencies;

– Issue a memorandum circular to effect separate health protocols for telco manpower;

– Consider power capacity requirements of telcos and/or ICT infrastructure;

– Urge local government units to fast-track issuance of Certificate of Final Electrical Inspection (CFEI); and,

– Urge LGUs to streamline requirements and procedures for shorter turn-around-time in processing permits

“The ultimate objective is to connect the Filipino people, and to provide the means for our kababayan to not just survive, but thrive in the digital age,” Nograles said.

He said the DICT has already adopted the CHIP (Connect, Harness, Innovate, Protect) Conceptual Framework in order to address these concerns on digital connectivity. 

He said improving the country’s “digital readiness” would help the nation bounce back better from the pandemic.  He noted that while the country has jumped  to 86th from 111th in global mobile internet speed, the pandemic has shown that much work needs to be done to address the increasing demand for ICT infrastructure.