After President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement to streamline and speed up the issuance of LGU permits in July 2020, there has been a significant increase in permits granted to telcos from July 2020 to April this year vis-à-vis 2019.
In 2019, a total of 1,636 permits were issued for DITO, Globe and Smart, while in 2020, a total of 6,451 permits were issued. The 294% increase in issuances is seen as a direct effect of the President’s pronouncement.
As of January to April 2021, 2,789 permits have already been issued to telcos.
The increase in permits issued resulted in an increase in towers built.
In 2019, telcos built a total of 1,746 towers. In 2020, a total of 4,337 towers were built. 2020’s figure represents a 148% increase compared to the previous year. As of April 2021, 1,672 towers have been built by telcos.
The country now has a total of 24,614 cellular towers to date. Globe has 10,941 towers. Smart has 10,433 and DITO has 3,240.
Telcos continue to invest heavily on their fiber-optic network with a total of 846,323 cable-kilometers already laid out all over the country to date. Smart currently has the widest network with 497,700 cable-kilometers of fiber optic built. Converge has laid out 260,030 cable-kilometers. Globe has 72,573 cable-kilometers and DITO with 16,020 cable-kilometers.
In 2019, a total of 384,341 cable-kilometers of fiber network was laid out all over the country. In 2020, the network increased to a total of 726,705 cable-kilometers, an 89% increase from the previous year. The 846,323 cable-kilometers laid out as of April 2021 represent a 16.5% increase from the 726,705 cable-kilometers completed at the end of 2020.
Recent fast-tracking of telco infrastructure roll-out is expected to continue as more LGUs comply with the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 01 s. 2020 signed by the Department of Information and Communications Technology, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Anti-Red Tape Authority, and other government agencies.
The National Telecommunications Commission, PLDT, Globe, Converge and DITO also welcomed the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) initiative to allow telecommunication companies to occupy a portion of the government’s Right of Way (ROW) as part of the government’s thrust to ensure internet connectivity throughout the country. The new DPWH directive will help speed up implementation of telco infrastructure projects especially along national roads.
With the country’s third major telco, DITO Telecommunity, now present in 100 cities all throughout the Philippines, incumbents Globe and Smart increased their capital expenditures this year.
Globe is set to spend a record P70 billion, while Smart P92 billion this year. Both investments are the highest annually for each telco for the past six years.
Fiber internet company, Converge, is also expected to increase its capital expenditure from P19 billion in 2020 to P20 billion this year as it aggressively provides pure end-to-end fiber internet connection to its market.