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NTC asks telcos to submit 2021 roll-out plans to help ensure improvement in internet speed

In line with President Duterte’s directive to telcos to improve their services last year, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) instructed all public telecommunications entities to submit to the Commission, not later than 20 January 2021, their respective roll-out plans for this year.

The measure will allow the NTC to closely monitor telcos’ progress in helping the country improve its internet speed resulting to better global rankings in Ookla’sSpeedtestGlobal Index.Information on strategies will enable the Commission to extend telcos any assistance for the smooth implementation of their roll-out plans.

The NTC informed the DICT that the Commission shall push for front-loaded implementation of telcos’ roll-out plans, particularly for the first two (2) quarters, in time for the 2021 July SONA.

Bi-monthly meetings will also be conducted by the NTC and the DICT with the telcos to ensure compliance with the submitted roll-out plans.

The NTC and DICT shall help the telcos with any challenges they encounter in implementing the roll-out plans, particularly “red tape” challenges.

NTC said that monthly measurement of internet speeds will continue.

Despite challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s internet speed continued to improve based on Ookla findings for December 2020.

With close to 120 million tests conducted in the Philippines in 2020,Ookla reported a 297.47% improvement on the country’s internet average download speed for fixed broadband and 202.41% for mobile broadband, compared to 2016 speeds. The country’s average download speedfor fixed broadband improved from 7.91Mbps (July 2016) to 31.44Mbps (December 2020), while average download speed for mobile broadband also improved from 7.44Mbps (July 2016) to 22.50Mbps (December 2020).

Third major telco player DITO’s launch commercially on March 2021 have prompted incumbents Globe and Smart to increase capital expenditures significantly with Globe set to spend P90 billion, and Smart P92 billion in 2021. Both investments are the highest annually for each telco for the past six years.

DITO, meanwhile, plans to go head on with the incumbents fulfilling its commitment of spending P150 billion last year for its infrastructure roll-out.

DICT’s common tower policy also aims to immediately address the improvement of telecom services across the country.

Globe said that it has finalized partnerships with eleven tower companies, while Smart signified that it has already agreements with nine tower companies.New telco player, DITO, has also sealed agreements with three tower companies.

DITO says that the number of towers it has completed to date, on top of the number of towers being constructed by independent tower contractors, is sufficient to serve the 37% population coverage which the telco committed for its first audit this month.

Building additional towers is seen to be essential in drastically increasing internet speeds to enable the country to be more competitive globally.