Telco firms improving quality of signal, service

THE PALACE SAID telecommunication firms must improve their services further to put themselves at par with the connection quality in other countries. — BW FILE PHOTO

THERE IS A long way to go for telecommunications firms to put their services at par with those in our Asian neighbors, the Palace said, despite improvements made to boost signal quality amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said in a briefing on Tuesday that despite steps made by local companies to improve their services, the goal to give the “best” to the Filipinos has yet to be attained by the main telecommunication players.

This is after National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) Commissioner Gamaliel A. Cordoba said the Philippines ranked 32nd in fixed broadband and 34th in mobile broadband in the Asian region.

“What our countrymen want is not only for Globe and Smart’s services to improve. What our countrymen want is for services to be world-class. Let’s be honest but at number 34 in Asia, I don’t think we are world-class,” Mr. Roque said.

Mr. Cordoba said services and prices are expected to be better for consumers once the third telco firm Dito Telecommunity Corp. starts commercial operations next year as competition will make current players step up their game.

“Competition will drive the services to improve and drive prices to go down,” he said in the same briefing.

On Tuesday, telecommunication providers Globe Telecom, Inc., Smart Communications, Inc., Dito Telecommunity, and Converge ICT Solutions, Inc. all gave updates on their services after the Palace last week criticized the companies for their services despite the faster cell tower application process mandated by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Smart President and CEO Alfred S. Panlilio said a lot of work needs to be done “if we really want to improve our coverage.” This includes upgrading its fiber services, he said.

“What we really want is to elevate the Philippines to global standards,” he said in the same briefing. He said that in August, the company began to migrate its legacy DSL copper subscribers to fiber.

Globe President and CEO Ernest L. Cu said Mr. Duterte’s order to hasten the process for building cell towers allowed the company to “exceed its rollout targets for the year” despite lockdown measures.

“We will be able to make our target of 1,300 additional sites for the year,” Mr. Cu said.

Dito Telecommunity Spokesperson Adel A. Tamano said the company has built about 1,900 cell towers, with its 5G services already in place ahead of its March 2021 commercial rollout.

“We have a government commitment to have 84% coverage by our fifth year so those underserved areas will be met… but internally we are going for 90% within five years,” he said.

Converge ICT Solutions Chief Operating Officer Jesus C. Romero said the company has added 3.5 million ports to its network this year.

“We plan to add more for 2021. That’s an additional 1.8 million, bringing us to 5.3 million ports nationwide,” Mr. Romero said.

He added that Converge is building its domestic backbone from Aparri to General Santos. While the Luzon area is already operating, it is also looking to serve the Visayas and Mindanao. — G.M. Cortez

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