Local telcos, cable firms move to curb illegal cable cutting

Local telecom and cable operators have banded together in an effort to address the rampant cable theft that is causing network disruptions in the country.

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Rival service providers have launched “Oplan Kontra Putol,” an industry-wide initiative that seeks to inform the public about illegal cable-cutting and the disruption it brings to families and communities.

It involves consumer education, deployment of efficient security and patrolling systems, and close cooperation with local authorities and government units.

“Together with our customers, we have been victimized by perpetrators who steal and sell the copper wires for profit, or recklessly cut and damage our cable wires without regard to the disruption it causes to our internet and cable service. This illegal act robs our customers of the steady internet and cable TV service they need for entertainment and access to information, and disrupts connectivity required for work,” said the Oplan Kontra Putol Consortium in a statement.

The joint manifesto was signed by Globe Telecom, Metroworks ICT Construction Inc., Radius Telecoms, PLDT,-Smart Communications, Streamtech Systems Technologies, Philippine Cable and Telecommunications Association, and SKY Cable.

The group calls upon law enforcement agencies to implement Republic Act 10515, otherwise known as the Cable Theft Act, which has criminalized intentional cable cutting. It also taps barangays and local government units (LGUs) to encourage their constituents to immediately report suspected and actual incidents of intentional cable cutting to their respective local officials, local police, and service providers.

“We condemn all illegal acts of intentional cable cutting and are confident that with everyone’s support and concerted efforts, we can and we will curb and prevent illegal cable-cutting to continue giving the best service our valued customers deserve,” the statement read.

Globe said that in the first half of the year, a total of 281 individuals and third-party contractors linked to these criminal offenses were charged with theft, qualified theft, robbery, violation of the anti-fencing law, malicious mischief, and violation of the Omnibus Election Code and Republic Act 10515 or the Anti-Cable Television and Cable Internet Tapping Act of 2013.

For its part, PLDT has organized and launched the National Telecommunications Security Council (NTSC), which is composed of corporate security professionals from the different telcos like Globe, Dito, Converge ICT Solutions, and Sky Cable.

“We established the NTSC for the purpose of sharing intelligence information and the coordination of activities against the common threat posed by thieves and other perpetrators,” said Oliver Carlos Odulio, head of PLDT’s Asset Protection and Security Risk Governance (APSRG).

“This has also allowed us to share best practices on how to keep our fiber, cell sites and other network infrastructure physically safe, and is part of our long-standing commitment to ensure continued connectivity and unhampered delivery of our fiber-to-the-home, LTE and 5G services to our customers,” he added.

According to PLDT’s APSRG, while incidents involving loss of network equipment have increased 59% year-on-year in the first seven months of the year, efforts of APSRG have also led to a 422% increase in apprehensions as well for the same period. 

“PLDT is committed to work closely with local government units, local authorities and our colleagues in the industry to ensure the physical security of telco infrastructure and make sure that these illegal activities do not cause interruptions to our customers’ internet connections,” he said. 

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