The Better Broadband Alliance (BBA) has called for more support from the government to aid the employees, as well as health and educational institutions to have better connectivity options as the world is now more inclined to home-based job and learning strategies due to the lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.
On top of a six-point recommendations list issued by the BBA to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), the group urged the government to ease the permit processing so that telecommunication companies will be able to provide more bandwidth within and in areas surrounding Metro Manila.
According to BBA Lead Convenor Mary Grace Mirandilla-Santos, the government should move fast in putting up temporary solutions, otherwise, the lack of stable and efficient internet connectivity amid COVID-19 might result in huge business losses.
“In Davao, there are cases where BPO employees are asked to work from home, however, where these employees are located, they do not necessarily have the broadband connection with the quality that would comply with the requirements of their clients abroad so we might lose a lot of business,” Santos said in an interview with news channel ANC.
“Apart from our economy is already suffering as it is, so we need to make sure that establishments that offer essential services especially hospitals, local governments, those institutions have enough capacity and businesses that still need to operate should be able to do so with additional bandwidth,” she reiterated.
Santos said that the government should eliminate congestion in the approval of permits and processing, something that should have been done even before COVID-19 and implying that red tape should be completely eliminated.
“We need more proactive support from the government. There needs to be a way, not only repairs and maintenance to be carried out by service providers, but also new installations if necessary,” she said.
“The government can ease the permits for all types of technologies to be deployed out there wherever it’s needed,” Santos added.
Santos also demanded for President Duterte and the congress to revisit policy reforms that have been stagnant for so long.
“There’s no workaround to something that should’ve been done years ago. These are actually things that could have been done had the policy framework been revised before,” she added.
Santos said that the government should also welcome more technology options, citing that the requirement for internet connection across all areas in the Philippines isn’t something attainable with only just two major players.
DITO telecommunications, the third telco player that’s yet to start its operations in the country could’ve been an appropriate aid to the lack of decent internet connection in the Philippines during the COVID-19 scare, however, the company announced earlier that it’s delaying its local launch.
DITO said that it will most probably deploy its commercial rollout in March 2021 due to restrictions brought by the current pandemic, despite years of preparations.
Also included on the list of recommendations of the BBA to the IATF are the following: provide a hotline for telco and data service suppliers who may encounter difficulties at checkpoints; encourage new installation of telecom and broadband facilities like cell site on wheels; fast-track deployment of free public WiFi to include essential institutions like hospitals, super markets and baranggay halls; create database and network map; and issue up-to-date advisory on cybersecurity.