Friday, June 21, 2024

Telcos: Exclusive villages main culprit for lack of cell sites in Metro Manila

The continued opposition of exclusive villages in Metro Manila for the installation of cell sites within their areas is hampering efforts to improve coverage and internet experience of subscribers.

An alternative to cell towers is the ODAS, which makes use of a specialized lamp posts built with radio signal transmission capability. Photo credit: Globe Telecom
An alternative to cell towers is the ODAS, which makes use of a specialized lamp posts built with radio signal transmission capability. Photo credit: Globe Telecom

This is according to telecommunications firms Globe Telecom and Smart Communications, which noted in the past that the many home owners oppose the deployment in their villages due to the perceived health risk from cell towers.

Last month, Smart provided the House of Representatives a list of 100 subdivisions in Metro Manila opposed to the construction of cell sites within their jurisdiction.

Among those in the list were Alabang Hills, Ayala Alabang, Greenmeadows, Loyola Grand Villas, Xavierville, Valle Verde, White Plains, St. Ignatius, McKinley Hills, One McKinley Place, BF Homes, Better Living, Bel-Air, Dasmarinas Village, Forbes Park, Multinational, Capitol Hills, Ferndale, Corinthian Gardens, Montgomery Place, North Greenhills, Horseshoe, Phil-Am Homes, Tierra Pura, Filinvest Homes, and Hillsborough.

The list was part of the additional documentary requirements submitted by Smart to the Committee on Legislative Franchises as the telco applied for the extension/renewal of its legislative franchise.

Globe, for its part, also recently informed the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) of several villages that rejected outright their request to build additional facilities within their subdivisions.

These villages include Bel-Air, Corinthian Gardens, Dasmarinas, North Greenhills, Greenmeadows, New Manila, BF Resort, BF Homes, BF Almanza, Moonwalk, Philamlife, Horeshoe, Greenwood Executive, Better Living, Tahanan, and St. Ignatius.

In another letter to NTC last July, Smart reported that the operation of an Outdoor Distributed Antenna System (ODAS) in La Vista subdivision in Quezon City was stopped by a cease and desist order from the city?s Department of Building Official (DBO) on February 7 this year.

ODAS is a new wireless technology which effects stronger mobile phone signal for its subscribers and is the next best alternative to towering cell sites.

Smart said that while it was able to obtaine the consent of the owners of the land where the ODAS was installed, it had to accede to the cease and desist order, which was based on a complaint filed by certain individuals.

Smart and Globe?s submission of documents came after a recent Senate hearing conducted by Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV which investigated the slow internet speed in the country.

In that hearing of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, Aquino reiterated that more cell sites were needed to improve connectivity and internet service in the country.

While they agreed with the lawmaker, Smart?s representative lamented that village and building officials automatically oppose the idea of building the facilities without really giving the telcos the chance to explain the processes and equipment needed.

Apart from issues with homeowners associations, telcos also cited difficulties in dealing with local government units (LGUs), which only prolong the installation of cell sites.

Representatives of telcos related that an average of 25 LGU permits are needed for a single cell site to be put up and the processing of these permits usually took around eight months to finish.

Another three months is needed to build the actual facility, making it nearly a year to have one cell site operational, they explained.

Globe?s representative claimed that in 2015, the company allocated a budget for more than 1,000 additional cell sites. The actual output was just less than 50 percent of their target. Permits for all the rest are still pending with the LGUs to date, the company said.

Based on a February 2016 study of TowerXchange, the number of unique physical cell sites in the Philippines is one of the lowest in Asia, with a combined 15,000 cell sites.

China has the highest number with 1.18 million cell sites, followed by India (450,000), Indonesia (76,477), Vietnam (55,000), Thailand (52,483), Pakistan (28,000), Bangladesh (27,000), and Malaysia (22,000).

The Philippines ranked just above Cambodia, which has 9,000 cell sites, Myanmar (7,620), and Sri Lanka (7,000). — PNA

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