PLDT and Smart Communication have called for affordable and reasonable regulatory fees to facilitate network rollouts in unserved and underserved areas of the country.
In a recent webinar on the Open Access in Data Transmission Act hosted by the Senate Economic Planning Office (SEPO), Smart VP and Head of Regulatory Affairs Atty. Roy. D Ibay said that new legislation that aims to genuinely address or bridge the digital divide must ensure that data facilities and fiber find their way to serve municipalities in areas that need adequate coverage.
“To be able to provide equitable and faster access to our services in priority rollout areas, there must be affordable and reasonable regulatory and radio spectrum fees,” said Roy D. Ibay, adding that the prevalence of arbitrary regulatory fees imposed by some LGUs, such as tower fees, inspection fees, and audit fees continue to be “major roadblocks for ICT growth.”
Ibay also pointed out that a uniform spectrum users fee based on a per kHz per population will encourage the rollout, instead of the wireless broadband formula that discourages deployment of more wireless facilities in using a per station, per kilohertz computation.
Since the government fast-tracked approvals of permits for passive telecom tower infrastructure (PTTI), PLDT and Smart have secured around 22,000 fixed and wireless permits as of June. However, important rationalization of permits and fees for fiber optic roll-outs have yet to be issued.
Among government initiatives that have helped speed up the telco rollouts are the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA)’s issuance of the Joint Memorandum Circular that fast-tracked the distribution of permits DPWHs Order No. 29, which allows telecommunication companies to occupy a portion of the government Right of Way (ROW).