DICT still waiting for EO that will streamline LGU permits for cell towers

By Edd K. Usman

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is still working to expedite the release of an executive order (EO) that will streamline local permits needed for the construction of cell sites.

DICT undersecretary and OIC Eliseo M. Rio Jr. discusses the state of Internet in the Philippines during the first Internet Governance dialogue in Quezon City

DICT undersecretary and OIC Eliseo M. Rio Jr. discusses the state of Internet in the Philippines during the first Internet Governance dialogue in Quezon City

The EO was one of the solutions promised by the DICT at the first Philippine Telecommunications Summit in March but Malacanang has yet to issue the decree.

The country’s telecommunications companies have cited the numerous permits from national government agencies (NGAs) and local government units (LGUs) as one of the reasons for the slow Internet speed in the country.

Executives of PLDT, which owns Smart Communications, and Globe Telecommunications have been saying they need to put up towers to enable them to deliver better signals and Internet signals to their subscribers.

DICT officer-in-charge (OIC) and undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr. said the agency has already submitted the EO which will “streamline the process of securing permits from NGAs and LGUs relevant to the construction.”

Meanwhile, DICT officials have lamented the Philippines having the slowest and most expensive Internet service in Southeast Asia.

To address the problem, Rio said the government also plans to partner with the private sector to build mobile infrastructure, including towers.

“We are looking at a public-private partnership and roll out towers, especially in areas where telecommunications companies don’t go,” said Rio.

Rio made the statement during the first Philippine Internet Governance (IG) Colloquium held recently in Quezon City.

At the event, the DICT official reiterated the huge challenge facing the Philippines in delivering Internet connectivity as he spoke of the plans of the department to deal with the inadequate information infrastructures (infostructures), which he blamed for the congestion causing the slow speed of data access.

The forum, which was co-organized by the DICT with the Internet Society — Philippine Chapter (ISOC-PH) and the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA), brought together Internet and IT experts from the public and private sectors.

Liza Garcia, executive director of FMA, described the timeliness of the Philippines having its own Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which she said “is long overdue.”

“The IGF,” said Garcia, “is a platform that brings together various stakeholder groups from all over the world as equals to exchange information and share good practices on Internet governance.”

Discussions in an IGF usually delve on protocols, domain name systems, the Internet of Things, the Internet’s future, e-commerce, and human rights issues having to do with the Internet, the FMA official said.

“One of the things that we noticed is the lack of government participation, as well as businesses, in these spaces,” said Garcia.

DICT director Maria Teresa Magno-Garcia acknowledged the importance of the government participating in the discussion, saying the DICT recognizes the colloquium as a venue to share concerns as well as to be equipped with necessary expertise in tackling the most pressing ICT issues.

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