DPWH urged to amend right-of-way order for better internet service

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 21) - The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) was urged to consider the proposed amendments in its right-of-way policy, in a bid to improve the internet connectivity services in the country.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) wrote a letter to DPWH Secretary Mark Villar in September reminding him of their agreement signed in May 2017 to amend the right-of-way regulations that will hasten the construction of information and communications technology infrastructures.

Under DPWH’s Department Order 73, s. 2014, posts and towers of electric power distributors and cooperatives, distribution lines, and posts of mobile service providers are prohibited along national roads.

“[This] results in difficulties for public telecommunication entities as they proceed with the implementation of their roll-out plans for critical backbone and last mile connectivity,” said DICT in a statement on Tuesday.

Following the signing of agreement, the DPWH held various technical working group meetings with representatives from the DICT, NTC, telecommunication companies, and cable operators, among others.

However, the DICT did not mention in the statement the proposed amendments to the DPWH’s right-of-way policy.

The amendments are also being pushed by the recently established Telecommunications Monitoring Group, an inter-agency body comprised of members from the DICT, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC), Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) and the Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP).

“The indispensable use not just of telecommunications, but also of the internet and other information services in the new normal, highlights the urgent need for equitable access to affordable, quality and reliable ICT connectivity,” said DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II.

“This will only be possible through the accelerated rollout of ICT networks and infrastructure, so our priority is to develop enabling policies that address the private sectors’ complaints against red tape that serve as a cause of delay in the rollout of infrastructure for both telecommunications as well as information services,” he added.