Homeowners’ opposition to new cell sites and political bickering among local officials are among the reasons for the slow Internet in Metro Manila, an executive of Globe Telecom Inc. said Thursday.
“Metro Manila is critical in the deployment of new cell sites as many of our customers are also concentrated in this area. However, there is a myriad of issues that restrains realization of our plans to establish more cell sites in the area and improve the Internet experience of our customers,” Globe senior vice president for program governance, network technical group Joel Agustin said.
“For instance, many home owners oppose the deployment of cell sites in their villages due to a perceived health risk,” he said.
Agustin said as a requirement for capacity expansion drive, Globe had to improve cell site density, a necessary prerequisite in improving data connectivity of customers in terms of speed and access.
Agustin insisted that cell sites were not posing any health hazard, based on the statements of the World Health Organization, cancer.org, United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund and the Philippines Department of Health.
He said these organizations expressed support for the use of mobile phones and the technology in their various health projects.
Agustin said that prior to installation of cell site equipment, the Health Department, as commissioned by the National Telecommunications Commission, also granted permits to make sure emissions from cell sites were within set standards and not harmful to health.
It is also under the discretion of the Health Department to continuously monitor the emission settings of the cell site equipment after installation, he said.
The international exposure guidelines are set by the International Commission on Non Ionizing Radiation Protection and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.
Globe said political squabbling when local government executives were from opposing parties, the lack of property documentations and a host of other issues hampered deployment of new cell sites.
Telecom operators need to secure an average of 25 permits at the local government level to build a single cell site and this process takes at least 8 months to complete even before the necessary infrastructure can be built, costing an average of around P18 million per site.
Among the issues include imposition of tower fees prior to processing of cell site permit application; required tower height exceeding the allowable height imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines; lack of proof of documentation to prove ownership; and tax arrears,
Globe said in some cases, existing property had no permits which was a prerequisite for application of cell site permits or the proposed location was a mortgaged property and the bank was not willing to issue bank consent.
“ Following the conclusion of the recent national and local polls, the election of new local government officials in a given locality poses another challenge for telecom operators as it could cause delay in the processing of permits particularly in areas where the elected local official isn’t the incumbent,” Agustin said.
Agustin said aside from Metro Manila, other problematic areas included Cebu, Davao, North Luzon and South Luzon.
Globe said it was currently expanding its network coverage and capacity in various areas all over the country across all technologies, including 3G & LTE, for faster Internet experience of its customers nationwide.