Govt should rationalize fees to hasten rollouts

Published July 13, 2021, 12:20 PM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

The government should grant missionary concessions to telcos rolling out networks in unserved and underserved areas by way of “affordable and reasonable regulatory fees”.


Many Local Government Units (LGUs) continue to impose regulatory charges – tower fees, inspection fees, audit fees as well as radio spectrum fees that pose “major roadblocks for ICT growth”, revealed Smart Communications Inc. Vice President and Head of Regulatory Affairs Atty. Roy D. Ibay.

To facilitate network rollouts in unserved and underserved areas, the government must impose affordable and reasonable fees, he reiterated during the recent webinar on the Open Access in Data Transmission Act of the Senate Economic Planning Office (SEPO).

Regulatory and radio spectrum fees play a role in ensuring quicker rollouts, Ibay underscored.

A uniform spectrum users fee based on a per kHz per population will encourage the rollout, instead of the prevailing wireless broadband formula that discourages and punishes deployment of more wireless facilities in using a per station, per kilohertz computation.

“Last year alone, Smart spent P2.4 billion on fees, which could have been spent on actual physical facilities to improve telecom services,” he noted.

Since the government fast-tracked approvals of permits for passive telecom tower infrastructure (PTTI) last year, parent firm PLDT and Smart secured 22,000 fixed and wireless permits as of June.

However, regulators have yet to issue the equally important rationalization of permits and fees for fiber optic rollouts.