Gov’t invites telcos to bi-monthly meetings on internet speed boost — NTC
MANILA, Philippines — The country’s major telecommunications companies have been invited to attend bi-monthly meetings with the government starting February in an effort to boost the country’s internet speed, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said.
NTC explained on Sunday bared some of the areas that would be explored in the meetings between the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the country’s telecommunications companies
The commission looks to capitalize on the recent internet speed improvement in the country after speed monitoring group Ookla Speedtest reported in their December global index that the Philippines has moved 14 spots up in the mobile internet category, good for 96th place with an average speed of 22.50 megabits per second (Mbps).
“[NTC] this weekend invited Globe and Smart to its first bi-monthly meeting with the [DICT] on the first week of February to help ensure that the telcos’ plans for expansion and improvement in 2021 are completed in time,” NTC said in a statement.
“In the meeting, telcos are expected to brief the NTC on the status of their network roll-outs and current problems encountered. The NTC aims to determine how government can help address said issues, particularly ‘red tape’ challenges,” it added.
It can be recalled that NTC recently ordered telcos to submit their rollout plans for 2021, to give the agency an outlook of how much internet speeds would improve in the country.
While the Philippines also improved in the fixed broadband category, getting up three spots for the 100th ranking with 31.44 Mbps, it still lags behind its Southeast Asian neighbors like Laos (82nd at mobile, 90th at fixed), Vietnam (62nd at mobile, 59th at fixed), and Thailand, which was ranked 33rd at the mobile category but holds the top spot for the fastest fixed broadband worldwide.
The meetings would also tackle how to sustain and improve internet speed status in the country, based on Ookla’s Speedtest index
“The bi-monthly meetings will allow the NTC to closely monitor telcos’ progress in helping the country improve its internet speed resulting to better global rankings in Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index,” NTC said.
“The improvement in mobile internet connection pulled the country’s rank up the past month to 29th from 34th out of 50 Asian countries and to 18th from 22nd out of 46 Asia Pacific countries,” it added.
A sense of urgency over slow internet speeds developed after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened telcos of expropriation or government control of their assets if they fail to improve internet speeds before the end of 2020.
Duterte issued the threat during his State of the Nation Address in July 2020, as the third telco group Dito Telecommunity was looking to break into the business.
To address Duterte’s concerns, the NTC said the average permits per month given to Globe have increased from just 63 to 348, and for Smart, from 50 to 97.
“The fast-tracking of the issuance of permits resulted in an increase in building cellular towers. From July to December 2020, a total of 2,939 additional towers/physical sites were built,” NTC said.
“The country has a total of 22,834 cellular tower/sites to date with Globe having 10,395, Smart and DITO having 10,079 and 2,360 respectively. Telcos also continue to invest heavily on their fiber optic network with a total of 543,740 cable-kilometers already laid out all over the country to date,” it added.
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