THE telecommunications industry will need foreign direct investment (FDI) to accelerate the roll out of internet to the countryside, an official of the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) said.
DICT Undersecretary Emmanuel Caintic, one of the panelists in the “Arangkada Philippines Forum 2021: Pathways to Modern Infrastructure,” said they have made the move in Congress in expediting possible changes in the public service act to facilitate the development of internet in the far-flung areas of country.
“We are 15 years delayed already. Nothing else matters if we do not build the fibers. Digital government, education will come secondary, so connectivity is the focus of the game,” Caintic told the joint foreign chamber of commerce.
Caintic said the DICT is now in touch with House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto 3rd on possible reform in the public service act, including lifting of foreign ownership restrictions.
“Increased competition is already good for the consumers but that needs an act of congress,” he said.
“We are not trying to jeopardize the patrimony of our digital infrastructure,” he said. “We are simply allowing foreign investors to have more participation in this disintegrated industry.” The DICT, he said, will set some parameters which parts of the disintegrated telcos industry investors will be able to play a role on.
Caintic said their focus for 2022 will now be on the propagation of national broadband backbone in the provinces in northern and Southern Tagalog regions, including Metro Manila.
“We’re trying to build where they ought to build. We understand that commercial viability of creating networks where there are no sufficient population is hard because there’s no financial incentives for them,” the DICT official said.
DICT, he said, is not trying to compete with telcos but just want to focus on building fiber infrastructure that has been neglected for years.
Caintic said they are also looking for congress to give them sufficient budget backing to push through with their plan to put up a DICT-owned and maintained common towers on certain places that badly need cell-sites.
“For places like Aparri (Cagayan) and all those places in the Eastern seaboard which has really sparse tower buildout, we will be able to at least help the telcos already,” the DICT official said.