‘Napaka-incompetent’: Poe hits NTC over poor internet connectivity in PH
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Grace Poe on Friday criticized the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for its “incompetence” in addressing the poor internet connectivity in the country.
Poe heads the Senate public services committee, which is set to look into the county’s connectivity ahead of the class opening in August.
NTC is a quasi-regulatory body that has jurisdiction over telco companies and broadcast firms.
“Ang problema natin, noon pa natin sinasabi ‘to, ay ang connectivity mismo na natin. Ang sama ng signal natin,” Poe said in an interview on dzMM’s Teleradyo as she raised concerns regarding the challenges that will beset students and teachers once online classes begin on August 24.
(Our problem, as I’ve repeatedly said in the past, is our connectivity. Our signal is really bad).
“Napaka-incompetent talaga ng regulator natin, I’m sorry to say, pero hindi lang naman yan sa administrasyon na ‘to. Marami diyan carry over from the past. ‘Yung NTC dapat talaga, yan ang inaatupag nila… Iba ang inaatupag e,” she added.
(Our regulator is really incompetent, I’m sorry to say but it is not only during this administration. A lot of officials have been carried over from the past administrations).
During a Senate virtual hearing on Thursday regarding the country’s shift to online and blended learning amid the pandemic, an official from the NTC was not able to participate due to “technical issues.”
“(Kahit) ang NTC hindi maka-connect…‘Di ba nakakalungkot ‘yan ano? Parang clue kung ano talaga yung nangyayari sa ating connectivity at telecommunications,” she said.
(Even the NTC can’t connect…Isn’t that disheartening? It served as a clue on the real state of our connectivity and telecommunications.)
Poe said her committee could direct telco companies to submit a report on efforts they are undertaking to improve the internet connectivity in the country.
“Kahit hindi ito trabaho ng lehislatura pero dahil nga meron nga tayong malaking krisis ngayon at hindi natutugunan ng NTC ang kanilang trabaho, siguro kami na lang ang magpapa-report directly, monthly dito sa mga telecommunication company kung ano na yung kanilang nagagawa,” she said.
(Even if it’s not in the mandate of the legislature but because we are in the middle of a crisis and the NTC is not able to do its job, maybe we can direct telecommunication companies to submit a report to us on what they have done to improve their services).
Lack of cell towers
According to Poe, one of the reasons for the slow connectivity in the country is the lack of cell towers.
Compared to Vietnam and Indonesia, which have 50,000 and 70,000 cell towers, respectively, the Philippines has less than 20,000, the senator said.
“Kaya talagang nagsisiksikan tayo sa mga signal, ang sama ng connectivity natin,” she said.
(That’s why we are struggling to find a stable signal, our connectivity is really poor).
She noted telco companies would supposedly need to secure 25 permits before they can put up one cell tower.
“Ang nagiging problema diyan, walong buwan and kailangan at 25 permits ang pinipirmahan bago makatayo ng isang cell tower. Kaya ang bagal-bagal,” the senator said.
(Our problem is, it would take eight months and 25 permits before a single cell tower can be put up. That’s why it’s taking us ages to do so).
“Meron na tayong batas yung Ease of Doing Business na talagang dapat pinapaikli yung mga permits na ganyan. Ang aking pakiusap sa ahensya na nagbibigay ng permit, wag nang patagalin ‘yan. Makikita na lang natin yung ibang teachers o yung ibang estudyante pumupunta sa kung saan sila makakakuha ng signal,” she added.
(We already have the Ease of Doing Business law that would expedite the process. I appeal to government agencies who are issuing these permits to be quicker, don’t let it take up too much time. We have seen teachers and students going to mountains just to get some signal).
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