MANILA, Philippines - Globe Telecom Inc. and the League of Vice Governors of the Philippines (LVGP) have signed an agreement to work together in the deployment of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure to take steps in improving connectivity in unserved and underserved areas, as the government has yet to finalize its national broadband plan.
Under the memorandum of agreement signed by Martha Sazon, Globe senior vice president for broadband business, and LVGP national president Antonio Albano, the vice governors committed to help facilitate deployment of telecommunication facilities in their respective provinces.
As a form of support, LVGP members will ensure there will be reasonable fees in terms of regulation of ICT infrastructure in the review of ordinances being passed by municipalities and cities.
LVGP members have also committed to advise and encourage cities and municipalities to have a turnaround time for the issuance of permits and licenses of not more than 10 days from the submission of all requirements; exempt ICT infrastructure installed in agricultural, residential, commercial and industrial areas from zoning clearances; and to enact a uniform ordinance setting the bare minimum documentary requirements and asking for no more than three signatures for such permits.
The vice governors will likewise help in identifying areas owned and controlled by the government where ICT infrastructure may be installed, co-located or leased by Globe.
In addition, the group will urge cities and municipalities to deploy at their cost and expense their respective ICT infrastructure such as fiber optic networks and communication towers to be leased to Globe.
Globe, meanwhile, will provide free Wi-Fi service in cities and municipalities compliant with the provisions of the agreement, as well as closed circuit television cameras or computer software or hardware and free internet service in schools and other public areas.
The Ayala-led telco will also be responsible for identifying priority areas for deployment and providing technical assistance to provinces, cities and municipalities when they put up their respective ICT infrastructure which could be leased by Globe.
As building infrastructure would be necessary to deliver improved services, Globe has been advocating for government to consider investing and putting up facilities which telcos could rent to be able to provide services in far-flung ares or where it does not make commercial sense for private firms to spend.
It is difficult for telcos to invest in internet infrastructure in far-flung areas with small communities and low revenues per user, as they need to deliver a return on money being spent.
If government would invest in internet infrastructure such as submarine cables for instance, Globe president and CEO Ernest Cu said telcos would be willing to deliver the service in the rural areas by renting facilities.
Recognizing the need to promote internet connectivity in the country, the Department of Information and Communications Technology is currently preparing the proposed national broaband plan which would involve putting up infrastructure to serve government and people in unserved or underserved areas.
?Under the proposed national broadband plan being crafted, existing telco service providers could use the infrastructure built by government to deliver services in far-flung areas for a fee.
Globe has also been calling for the rationalization of the permitting process for cell sites and other telecommunication infrastructure as it currently takes at least eight months to secure 25 permits for one cell site.
Given the challenges faced in securing permits from various local government units, homeowners’ associations and other government agencies, Globe has a backlog of around 3,000 sites.