Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Boost spending for internet infrastructure, group asks govt

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MANILA, Philippines — With data showing the Philippines lagging behind its Southeast Asian neighbors in terms of broadband connectivity, a consumer group urged the government to boost investments in internet infrastructure as Filipinos increase transactions online.

Bantay Konsyumer, Kalsada, Kuryente (BK3) said internet connection is now a “human right” thus investments in broadband infrastructure should be increased to ramp up internet access.

It said that access to the internet is not limited to leisure, as more Filipinos have embraced online business transactions.

“Internet connectivity facilitates transactions between consumers and businessmen, information gathering and communication among common people,” the group said.

“The issue of lack of internet access should be addressed immediately,” it added.’

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BK3 cited 2021 data from the National Telecommunications Commission that showed there are more than 22,000 cell sites in the country. This is less than a third of Vietnam’s 90,000.

The Asian Development Bank had said the Philippines has the lowest coverage rates of telecom towers in the Southeast Asian region and will need an additional 60,000 towers by 2031 in remote areas.

Several lawmakers and stakeholders in the telecommunications industry have proposed the revision of the National Building Code of 1977 to remove the lease for telecommunications infrastructure to help telcos get access to cell sites faster and help address internet connectivity woes among Filipinos.

Two measures filed at the House of Representatives — House Bills 8534 and 900 — seek to give property developers precise rules on how much space they must set aside to provide essential telecommunication services.

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