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Davao City, Philippines

Projects to improve connectivity in Mindanao

July 31, 2020 - Friday 11:07 AM by PNA

Article Banner Image Aimbzar P. Asum, DICT Mindanano Cluster 3, talks about the state of internet connectivity in the Philippines at the Davao Business Forum via Zoom on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. The DICT official underscores the importance of improved connectivity as the country reels from the coronavirus disease crisis. (Photo courtesy of forum organizers)

DAVAO CITY – Amid concerns on the impact of poor connectivity in the country, an official of the Department of Information and Communications Technology said the agency is doing its best to improve Internet connection in Davao Region.

Speaking during the Davao City Business Forum via Zoom on July 28, DICT Director for Mindanao Cluster 3 Alimbzar P. Asum said DICT has earmarked more than PHP6 million for the construction of wifi lines and free wifi sites for Davao Region last year.

DICT also implemented 179 communication centers such as library, training centers, and digital classrooms in Davao Region this year, Asum said.

For 2021, DICT has proposed PHP40 million for the construction of more projects aimed at improving the country’s communication and information system, he added.

Meanwhile, Asum said DICT was elated with President Rodrigo Duterte's stand boost Internet connectivity in the country.

“At this time of the pandemic, we realized we can do many things through the internet. So, government has to interconnect the whole country through the internet, the DICT official said.

Asum quipped that Internet connectivity in the Philippines remains poor.

“(it's) very serious. If I would categorize it in the medical term--it’s critical,” he said, adding that the problem became more pronounced amid the  coronavirus pandemic, when demand for Internet is high as the quarantine restrictions compelled people to stay home and use the web more.

Asum said he understood where President Rodrigo Duterte was coming from when he singled out the country's major telcos during the recent State of the National Address for poor connectivity.

The DICT official said slow connectivity has disrupted the work from home arrangement of several companies, while putting at risk the online learning modalities adopted by schools amid the pandemic.

However, Asum said DICT is "doing its best" to help telecommunications companies speed up the construction of more cell sites in Mindanao.

He also noted that for a telco to put up a single cell site, which costs PHP10 million to PHP15 million to build, more than 20 clearances are required in the local government level.

One solution the agency is looking at, he said, is giving more teeth to the existing Anti Red Tape Act of 2007 (ARTA) to compel LGUs to simplify and speed up the processing of permits that telcos have cited as a primary problem in putting up more cell sites.

Asum said DICT will also help telcos negotiate with homeowners associations in establishing cell sites, noting that several projects have been on hold because of health concerns by residents about the presence cell sites near their homes. Judy Quiros