Rio: Telcos profited on SMS but failed to ramp up cell sites

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) undersecretary and officer-in-charge Eliseo M. Rio Jr. has stated that the telco giants have only themselves to blame for the slow speed of Internet in the country.

DICT officer-in-charge and undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr.

DICT officer-in-charge and undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr.

In a Facebook post, Rio said Globe Telecom and Smart Communications reaped a cash windfall with SMS or text messaging a number of years back but did not invest in building cell towers despite the anticipated massive demand for mobile data.

“The two telcos have been raking their huge revenues with just 20,000 towers, because this number is more than enough to handle the traffic of the killer application for more than a decade which is SMS,” said Rio, a former chair of the National Telecommunications Commission.

“There was no real incentive to build more towers, until now when Internet content is king. That’s why they have now a lot of catching up to do, and are blaming red tape for slowing them down.The fact remains that they have only 20,000 towers right now because of SMS,” he stressed.

Rio, an engineer and former general at the Armed Forces of the Philippines, made the statement as a reaction to the press announcement of Globe Telecom that it has 16 Tbps in international broadband capacity, contrary to the DICT’s earlier assertion that the combined backhaul capacity of the two telcos is only 2 Tbps.

“Please remember that the ‘last mile issues’ of Globe (and Smart for that matter) is only up to their cell sites. Because they have difficulty in building more cell sites due to red tape, they can’t maximize the use of their 16 Tbps capacity,” he said.

“Both telcos have no major plans in bringing the last mile to homes or establishments, only up to their cell sites, which they need 67,000 towers from their present 20,000. The third player will be the one to provide fixed line access to fast and inexpensive Internet, in partnership with the power sector, riding on their ‘last mile’ facilities to more than 90% of homes and establishments in the country,” Rio said.

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