Tuesday, June 18, 2019

New law to fast-track setting up of cell sites

CEBU. It was a long time coming but the residents of Barangay Bonbon, Cebu City no longer have to struggle to get a signal on their cellphones after Globe Telecom launched its cell site in the mountain village. (SunStar photo/Arni Aclao)

A TELECOMMUNICATIONS company called for the full implementation of the Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act so they can put up more cell sites and improve connectivity in the region.

Globe Telecom Visayas and Mindanao external affairs director Patrick Gloria said they expect a cut in the time and number of permits and applications needed to put up a cell site.

“One cell site takes up to eight months before we can secure everything, from the barangay resolution until the actual service, because there are still government permits and negotiations with landowners. We want to trim it down with the help of the government, with the new law. We’d like a permanent cell site within one to two months,” he said.

Gloria said the Cebu City Government helped secure requirements to set up more cell sites.

“They have been very helpful. If they have concerns, they tell it to us and we tell them our issues. We basically exchange notes, and we try to be as upfront as we want to be,” Gloria said.

Globe has frequently lamented about the challenges of setting up telecommunications infrastructure, citing lengthy permit applications and some uncooperative stakeholders. The Philippines only has 16,800 cell sites shared by two of the country’s telecommunication networks and remains one of the Asian countries with the lowest cell site density.

“One cell site serves up to 4,000 subscribers,” Gloria said.

RA 11032 cuts down the bureaucratic processes for a company setting up a business or securing government permits and applications.

An agency must complete simple transactions in three working days, while complex transactions should be completed in seven days. Highly technical transactions are given up to 20 days. If an agency fails to finish within the prescribed number of days, the request is deemed approved.

With the current setup, Gloria said that they have to secure permits from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), building permits and the lessor, among others.

“It’s a total of 25 permits. But the government is helping us, although it’s slowly taking off. What we’d like to do is to fast-track everything. We’d like to secure 10 to 12 permits in three months, at least half of the 25. That’s a lot better,” he said.

Globe launched its new cell site in the mountain barangay of Bonbon that will address dead spots or areas without signal and improve the connectivity of its 6,000 residents.

Bonbon Barangay Captain Eduardo Cabriana said they immediately tackled the issues of connectivity in an emergency meeting after they were informed that Globe was willing to set up a cell site in their area. He added that when they held public hearings in the sitios, no one opposed the construction of the cell site.

Currently, only 3G connection is available. Gloria, however, assured that residents can connect to an LTE/4G network in two to three weeks.

A 20-meter tower was constructed for the temporary cell site, which has a one- to two-kilometer signal range that can reach the neighboring barangay of Sudlon I. Globe has an existing cell site in Barangay Guba. It is planning to set up three more in Barangays Tabunan, Sirao and Babag.


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