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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Globe calls for policy reforms as PH connectivity ranks poorly

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Globe Telecom Inc. asked the government on Friday for policy reforms to remove barriers in connectivity as the Philippines continues to rate below the global average.

The 2024 edition of the index released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialized agency of the UN, gave the Philippines a score of 74.4, an improvement by 14 percent from last year.

The rating, however, was still below the global average of 74.8 and way behind Southeast Asian neighbors such as Singapore, which garnered 97.8, Malaysia with 95.0 and Thailand at 91.0.

The Philippines’ score places it among the lowest five in the region, better only than Cambodia (72.6), Laos (65.3), Myanmar (63.8), and Timor-Leste (39.2).

“We are optimistic that we can score even higher in the global ICT Development Index.  This should serve as an impetus for all stakeholders including industry players and the government to work more closely to address persistent gaps in our connectivity infrastructure,” said Globe president and chief executive Ernest Cu. 

“The private sector has poured several billions in resources for ICT development. We cannot do it alone. There are barriers that can only be addressed through strong collaboration among the industry, government, and other stakeholders,” he said.

Cu said the country needed more substantial investments in digital infrastructure. The private sector has invested a combined P640 billion in three years, from 2021 to 2023, to upgrade the quality of the country’s connectivity infrastructure.

Globe invested P265 billion in capital expenditure and P236 billion in operational expenses over the past three years to enhance its network capabilities.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology invested only P7.6 billion for internet infrastructure from 2018 to 2024.

The Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC), a Malacañang-initiated body that brings together industry players, called on the government to allocate at least P240 billion to improve internet infrastructure and work with the private sector to build 35,000 new cell sites across the country. 

The Connectivity Plan Task Force (CPTF), led by Cu under the PSAC, is also working with the DICT for the rollout of connectivity infrastructure in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs). Globe’s network currently reaches over 500 GIDAs.

Globe also reiterated its call for policy reform to allow connectivity to flourish.

These include the provision of space for telco infrastructure in housing developments and the removal of lease fees for telco infrastructure in buildings and developments through amendments to the outdated National Building Code (1977).

Bills seeking this reform are still pending in Congress. 

“Telcos should not be charged for installing infrastructure inside buildings and developments that will provide connectivity, which is now a basic necessity like power and water. It is a life enabler, supporting commerce, people’s livelihood, education and leisure needs,” said Cu.

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