MANILA, Philippines - Globe Telecom Inc. is pushing for the amendment of the Local Government Code for faster issuance of permits for telco facilities by local government units (LGUs).
Gil Genio, chief information and technology officer at Globe, said bureaucratic red tape causes delay in securing various permits from LGUs to put up telco infrastructure such as cell sites.
“We have repeatedly emphasized that there is no substitute for government support in developing telco infrastructure in the country. We need the government to prioritize and enable the sector to undertake infrastructure builds, not just in the construction of cell sites but also in establishing underground facilities and in facilitating pole attachments,” he said.
At present, the country’s cell sites are not sufficient to support the growing mobile data usage and demand.
Based on the latest report of TowerXchange, the Philippines only has around 16,300 towers compared with Vietnam’s 70,000 towers.
Globe currently has a backlog of 3,000 cell sites.
Genio said it takes at least eight months to complete the approval process for the construction of one cell site, involving at least 25 permits.
Aside from bureaucratic red tape, Globe also has concerns on the lack of standard fees for permits as such also breeds corruption.
For instance, tower fees range between P5,000 and P200,000 depending on the LGU concerned.
In addition to the permitting issues at the local level, Genio said telcos also face challenges in setting up telco facilities because of opposition of villages or subdivisions to cell site proposals.
Close to 30 villages and subdivisions have rejected cell site proposals made by Globe. These include Forbes Park, Magallanes Village, and Belair Village in Makati, as well as Greenmeadows Village, La Vista and Greenhills North in Quezon City.
Approval from concerned homeowner associations (HOAs) is one of the 25 permits that need to be secured to set up a cell site.
Villages oppose the telco’s proposals due to alleged health risks associated with cell site towers.
Genio said Globe cell sites have been issued radiation-safety certificates by the Department of Health and so, the radio frequency signals coming from such facilities do not pose any adverse health impact.