The chief of Globe Telecom Inc. asked local government units to rationalize fees and expedite the processing of permits to fast-track the construction of cell sites nationwide.
The appeal came on the heels of a face-to-face meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte at Malacañang Palace on July 30 to inform the president of the telco industry's challenges.
“Each year, we make massive investments in billions of pesos to make our network perform at par with other countries. However, we can only go as far as what our existing infrastructure can give. If we want robust connectivity we really need to build more cell sites and roll out more fiber to homes,” said Globe president and chief executive Ernest Cu.
Cu said the current permitting process and fee structures “simply do not allow us to do these".
“This is a time when all industry stakeholders need to work together for the benefit of the consuming public. Connectivity is now an essential need especially during this pandemic. Let's turn a new leaf and help enable the industry to build,” he said.
Cu met with President Duterte on Thursday evening, which was included in the taped broadcast of the COVID-19 briefing at Malacañang on July 31.
In the meeting, Cu sought the help of the president on the debilitating process of getting permits to build cell sites and towers which takes at least eight months.
Cu showed the president and other officials present at the meeting the numerous permits Globe needed to secure to build a cell site tower—29 to 35 permits in all.
This resulted in the president’s quick intervention by instructing his Cabinet officials to “take the most drastic measure you can find” to fast-track the processing of telco infrastructure permits.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año informed the president that the recently signed Joint Memorandum Circular No. 01-2020 from concerned government agencies to make the issuance of permits a lot easier, with streamlining of permits to reduce processing time to a maximum of 20 days.
Globe announced its expansion plans in various provinces all over the Philippines to meet the growing demand for more connectivity and bring the digital experience to more Filipinos in the countryside.
The telecom industry’s bid to expand and put up needed broadband infrastructures have been slowed down if not totally prevented by permitting requirements imposed by LGUs and the opposition by hostile homeowners’ associations.
This was further compounded by network build disruptions given the stringent restrictions under an enhanced community quarantine, which started to ease in June when construction activities were allowed to restart.
Globe earmarked $1.2 billion in capital expenses this year, a large percentage of which is dedicated to network and capacity building.