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Globe says homeowner groups blocking cell sites

Posted on May 26, 2016 08:53:00 PM [ bworldonline.com]

TELECOMMUNICATION COMPANIES say their plans to build new cell sites in Metro Manila are being hampered by restrictions being imposed by some homeowner associations, as well as red tape and political squabbling, among others.

In a statement on Thursday, Globe Senior Vice-president for Program Governance, Network Technical Group Joel Agustin said Metro Manila is critical in the deployment of new cell sites, since many of its customers are in the area.

However, Mr. Agustin noted many home owners are against having new cell sites in their villages due to perceived health risks, even though these have been debunked by the World Health Organization and the Philippine Department of Health.

“Prior to installation of cell site equipment, the health department, as commissioned by the National Telecommunications Commission, also grants permits to make sure emissions from cell sites are within set standards and not harmful to health,” he said.

In a separate statement, Ramon Isberto, Head of PLDT and Smart Public Affairs said one of the challenges in rolling out network facilities such as cell sites involves securing permits from private parties such as homeowners associations, local government units and other national government agencies.

“Each of these come with different sets of demands and regulations. Aside from cell sites, we also need permits to roll-out facilities like fiber optic cables, which are vital because these carry the traffic generated by our subscribers. It would really help in expediting roll-out and maintenance of network infrastructure if the system of permits were to be simplified and standardized,” Mr. Isberto said.

To build a cell site, Globe said telcos have to get an average of 25 permits at the local government level, which takes at least 8 months.

Other issues raised by Globe include: “imposition of tower fees prior to processing of cell site permit application; required tower height exceeds allowable height imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, lack of proof of documentation to prove ownership; tax arrears; existing property has no permits which is a prerequisite for application of cell site permits; proposed location is a mortgaged property and the bank is not willing to issue bank consent.”

Also, telcos are usually caught in the middle of political squabbling between local government executives from opposing parties.

Mr. Agustin said telcos are expecting more delays in the issuance of permits after the recent elections, particularly in areas where the elected local official is not the incumbent.

“Aside from Metro Manila, other problematic areas include Cebu, Davao, North Luzon and South Luzon areas,” he said.

As part of efforts to improve internet service, Globe is expanding its network coverage and capacity in various areas across all technologies.

On the other hand, PLDT and Smart have set aside about P43 billion in capital expenditures this year, the bulk of which is budgeted to boost internet services in the country, including the recently announced initial deployment of LTE-Advanced.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. -- Tanya Mae B. Umali          
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