"Do we need more competition in the telecom industry in our country? I say yes, the soonest the best for the consumers in terms of better service, greater coverage and more affordable pricing," said Department of Information and Communications (DICT) Secretary Rodolfo Salalima during his keynote speech at the first day of the Philippine Telecommunications Summit on Thursday (9 March 2017).
"If any local franchisee wants to be the third or fourth operator in this country... bring in a foreign partner with the legal, technical and financial credibility and capacity to mount a credible and effective competition against the existing telcos," he added.
'Enough of frequency hoarding'
Salalima reiterated his warning to organisations owning unused or unpaid mobile frequencies that he will not tolerate frequency hoarding and will seize them back to be used by prospective telco players.
"To all the assignees of frequencies unused or whose spectrum users fee are unpaid, I have ordered the NTC, Commissioner [Gamaliel] Cordoba to start all quasi-judicial proceedings for the recovery and return of those frequencies unused and with frequencies unpaid to the government, for reassignment to legitimate telcos who will and must use these frequencies for public service," he said.
DICT vows to cut red tape
The DICT vowed to cut red tape in local government units (LGUs) to expedite the issuance of permits to telco firms to establish their broadband facilities.
Telco companies complained of having to secure at least 25 permits to put up a single cell site. On top of that, it takes at least eight months to complete getting all the permits.
As such, Salalima promised to draft an Executive Order - to be approved by President Rodrigo Duterte - that will instruct LGUs and other government agencies to fast-track and expedite the issuance of permits for putting up telco facilities.
He recommended seven days of processing permits for establishment of infostructure and infrastructure needed for telecommunications. Two more days may be given for the local chief executive to approve or deny the permit; otherwise the permit must be approved.
"I will be issuing letters to the LGUs, to various agencies of the government, personally signed by me, and copy furnished the Office of the President, the DILG, the Leagues of various local government units and other enforcing agencies of government mandating the LGUs to fast-track telcos' permits and licenses for public services and these letters will be carried by the telcos to these [uncooperative] mayors. If they don't move then the law will run after them," Salalima assured.
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