ARTA to stop excessive charges on telco projects

The Anti Red Tape Authority (ARTA) has called for a stop to excessive charges imposed by some local government units (LGUs) and homeowners’ associations on telco projects as these continued to hamper the country’s digital infrastructure efforts.

Secretary Ernesto B. Perez, ARTA director general, issued this call in a speech at the Telco Summit “Open Data. Open Innovation. One Nation” on Tuesday, Nov. 6 where he identified common constraints still being encountered by the telco industry despite major improvements in permit licensing, certification and automation processes.

“This has got to stop,” said Perez noting that some local government units (LGUs) and homeowners’ associations require exorbitant fees through business clearance fees or profit-sharing agreements, which are sometimes recurrent.

Perez said these charges are sometimes called “SOPs” (standard operating procedures) by some LGUs, and homeowners’ associations citing their local barangay issuances.

According to Perez, if the telco is unable to pay for some homeowners’ association fees it will be refused admission for installation repairs and maintenance work within the subdivision.

Perez said that ARTA is doing something about this problem with the support of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and the secretaries of the energy and information and communications technology department. “We will address these issues or challenges,” Perez said.

The second challenge is the anti-competitive policies of some LGUs and condominium associations that favor specific telco to service their jurisdictions in violation of competition laws.

Perez said that while the telco industry has made improvements, issues with LGUs and homeowner’s associations still persist.

Perez emphasized that the telecommunications sector is a key player in the economy as it enables digital transformation, automation and expanded connectivity for all data users in the country.

Additionally, this promotes transparency and accountability, thereby improving the services of the transacting public.

That is why, he said, the government, and private sectors have made it possible to boost the telecommunications industry by issuing joint memorandum circulars that aim to expedite the processing of permits, licenses and certificates for the construction of telecommunications and internet infrastructure.

Since its implementation, the number of approved telecommunications related permits have significantly increased, which resulted in improved internet connectivity.

“While we have made significant reforms there is still a lot to improve with regard to the telecommunication sector in the country,” he said.

According to studies, linking broadband penetration with economic growth in developed and developing nations, increasing internet coverage can boost economic growth and income levels.

Internet penetration contribute 1.5 percent of GDP in emerging nations where mobile broadband is more widely available.

A 10-percentage point increase in mobile broadband penetration amounts to 0. 32 percent of GDP in the Philippines

Despite the widespread cellphone signal coverage, and mobile device ownership, internet usage in the country remains low owing to poor and expensive internet connectivity and inadequate digital infrastructure especially outside Metro Manila, he said.

To address these weaknesses, a study of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies and the Philippine development plan emphasize the need for implementing existing government policies on E governance Let us now look at what your government has done to address these issues.

ARTA has coordinated the issuance of key joint memorandum circulars among agencies to reduce costs and requirements in the construction of shared passive telecommunications tower infrastructure for fiber, poles, ducts, cables and facilities. This led to the issuance of more telco licenses and permits.

On the other hand, there is a large rise in the number of permits issued between January and June 2020 with a difference of 21,280 permits for further so they saw the performance of the Philippines in the class speed test globally index has improved the Philippines crime to 81 number 81 from 93 last year for Legion mobile download speed for fixed broadband.

In terms of E government Development Index, The Philippines is currently ranked at nine out of 193 nations.