The Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for alleged failure to use its P8 million worth of network coverage monitoring tool and communication equipment for disaster situations in 2021.
In its annual audit report, the COA said the P4.8-million Multiband Network Scanning Receiver and Post Processing Tool, as well as the P3.2-million Rapidly Deployable Communication Equipment bought by the NTC’s Region 1 and Region 4A offices in 2020 remained unused as of Dec. 31, 2021 due to the absence of guidelines from the NTC central office.
“Such a situation of NTC not using them is defeating the purpose for which the equipment were procured, resulting in wastage of government funds,” COA said.
The Multiband Network Scanning Receiver and Post Processing Tool was meant to measure network coverage within a specific area.
The procedure involves driving it around a given loop to measure and detect the presence of network bands in 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE, and 5G connections to pinpoint locations with the given network bands.
The results would yield measurement of broadband speeds of these network bands used by NTC to audit Internet Service Providers’ (ISP) assertions on internet speeds on select areas of testing.
The Rapidly Deployable Communication Equipment, on the other hand, was supposed to be used during disaster-related situations where infrastructure related to network may be damaged and the surge of network users trying to connect to the main network—Internet Service Providers, public safety agencies, industrial companies and government—may render the main network unstable.
The Rapidly Deployable Communication equipment is supposed to address these issues by providing temporary assistance through establishing critical connections , consisting of portable and wireless platforms with radios, antennas, cable, power with battery, and generator back up.
COA said that NTC’s Region 1 and Region 4A offices reported that they were not able to use the equipment due to lack of guidelines and instructions from the NTC CO.
“Except for the testing of the equipment, there were no instances that the equipment was used again,” the COA said.
“Though the purposes, for which the equipment are to be used for, are in line with the mission of NTC of maintaining a responsive regulatory environment for an effective telecommunications/JCT sector, it is rendered futile absent the guidelines and instructions on its proper usage, not to mention the wastage of government resources,” COA added.
COA said the NTC, in response, agreed to train and issue guidelines and instruction to the personnel in the field, particularly in Regions 1 and 4A, on usage of the Multiband Network Scanning Receiver and Post Processing Tool as well as Rapidly Deployable Communication Equipment.
The NTC also issued a memo dated March 14 this year directing all its regional offices to submit monthly activities and corresponding action taken.
In addition, the NTC also conducted an orientation workshop for the ICT projects last April 18 to 21.
The sd workshop also served as a venue for creating guidelines and procedures in the utilization of the ICT projects for the benefits of the users.
The NTC issued an Officer Order dated May 19 for the guidelines in the utilization and reporting format of Rapidly Deployable Communication System and Multi-Band Network Scanning Receiver and Post-Processing Tool.