Sen. Grace Poe urged the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and telecommunications companies to deliver on their commitment to submit by July 13 detailed plans on how to improve internet service and coverage in the country amid increased demand from Filipinos going online with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Agencies and telcos need a nudge to act as fast as they can to bring the internet to everyone’s homes,” she said.
During a Senate hearing on July 1 on the status of internet connection, an irked Senator Grace Poe forced to suspend the hearing earlier than expected.
The hearing was called amid government’s plans to implement distance learning during the pandemic, even as the Philippines was ranked among those with the slowest internet speed in the Asia Pacific region.
Poe even had to log into the Webex videoconferencing app using her son’s account, as the Senate server could not connect to the internet.
In what Poe called a “comedy of errors,” the panel had to endure poor internet connection – a first-hand experience of what the committee sought to tackle.
“I would like to continue this hearing after we thresh out this problem with our connection. It’s quite ironic, again, that we are having connectivity issues in a hearing on connectivity,” Poe said.
The internet service providers present in the faulty hearing were PLDT, Globe Telecom, Converge and Dito.
On the other hand, Poe said she wants to find out how many more towers telcos plan to build in the coming years to give the Filipinos better online experience.
As a followthrough of the earlier hearing conducted by the Senate public services committee which she heads, Poe asked for the submission of several reports to find out the progress of government and telcos’ initiatives in a bid to expedite the needed infrastructure to boost connectivity.
With the advent of online learning this coming academic year due to the health crisis, Poe said efficient connectivity is a must for the millions of students and educators.
The internet has also been crucial to the country’s healthcare system in addressing the pandemic and to businesses that have kept their operations via online transactions.
“Nararanasan nating lahat ang mababang kalidad ng ating connection, kaya importante talaga na ang mga telco ay mag-deliver sa kanilang pangako na magpatayo ng mas maraming cell site at kung may iba pang kumpanya na magkakaroon ng magandang telecommunications service ay mas may pagpipilian ang ating mga kababayan,” Poe stressed.
Poe said she expects NTC to submit the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity given to Dito Telecommunity, the country’s third telco, and its full terms of reference including a copy of all required reportorial requirements and other submissions.
Accompanying these is the NTC resolution granting Dito’s request for a six-month extension to comply with its commitment to build the necessary infrastructure to provide a speed of 27 megabits per second to cover 37 percent of the population in the next six months.
Poe said that on July 13, the DICT should also turn over updates on a joint memorandum circular to streamline the issuance of permits to build cell sites and related infrastructure.
The circular is expected to be signed by the DICT with the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development./Stacy Ang