A consumer advocacy group pushes the crafting of a telecommunication infrastructure code, saying internet connectivity is a basic utility that must be made available to as many residential and commercial areas as possible.
“We appeal to developers of residential and commercial properties, both horizontal and vertical developments, to treat telecommunication as they would power and water,” said lawyer Tim Abejo, co-convenor of CitizenWatch Philippines.
“They should factor in provisions for the establishment of telco equipment as early as the planning stages of their developments.”
Abejo said the telco infra code would supplement the existing Building Code and would apply to various types of real estate development.
“The current Building Code is applicable to construction, and since it has been in place for a long time, it does not factor in connectivity needs,” he added.
Among the suggestions to property developers is the laying down of fiber optic cables that can be used by any telecommunication provider in accordance with telco standards.
“To be truly consumer-centric, developments must have 100 percent coverage and avoid hallway-only installations,” Abejo said.
He also called for “fiberization” in existing developments instead of mere fiber overlays, and said developers must integrate connectivity with the aesthetics of their properties. For new developments, the use of fiber should be the default mode instead of copper cabling, and property developers/ homeowner associations should execute the fiber overlays using agnostic fiber.
“This will future proof developments and is critical toward digitalization,” Abejo said.
Currently, telcos are offering to bring fiber to individual units – a convenient and cost-effective solution that does away with the need for rectification or civil works, which property developers or homeowners associations are reluctant to spend on.
“Telcos should be allowed to lay down fiber in existing developments in the most efficient way without sacrificing quality,” Abejo said.
Meanwhile, mall developers should not lease out space to telcos for their equipment nor charge them for activation and gross coverage area leases, Abejo said.
“In shifting to the mindset that the internet is really like power and water, what developers should do is charge the cost of telco provision to their tenants and locators who would benefit from the availability of the telco facility,” he said.
“This should apply to other types of commercial developments like offices and hotels.”
The aim is that 100% of the area should have connectivity, instead of just select areas, he said.
“This is what it means to be customer-centric: that anywhere in the development and anywhere in the country, there is good and stable coverage,” Abejo said, emphasizing that digital transformation is holistic, consistent and reliable.