Even faster internet possible

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The entry of a third telecommunications company—a foreign one, specifically China—to break the longstanding duopoly of the two existing local telcos has been widely hailed as the harbinger of faster and cheaper internet in the country.

One of the two local telcos claims, however, that it has sufficient bandwidth to provide better quality internet in the Philippines, but could only use a fraction of the amount, as regulatory bottlenecks such as burdensome permits prevented it from quickly rolling out crucial infrastructure.

This telco says it could activate over 16 terabits per second of international bandwidth, which it said would “satisfy the market’s hunger for faster internet services.” This figure is considered much larger than the 2 Tbps combined capacity that government regulators said is available from the two local telcos.

Despite the high figure, the telco noted it could only use less than 3 Tbps, or just 19 percent of the available figure, because of insufficient “last mile” infrastructure—the part of its network that it needs needs to build to directly connect to users, homes and businesses.

What seems to be the problem? For one, there’s the large number of permits needed at the local government unit level, and the slow pace of processing. Then there’s also inconsistent fees and property taxes, plus right-of-way issues.

These issues should be the proper concern of government, particularly the National Telecommunications Commission or NTC, but obviously it cannot do the job alone. There should be close inter-agency cooperation—and a third telco as soon as possible—so that we can have world-class internet.

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