21 July 2021 – The Anti-Red Tape Authority is mulling the creation of another Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) that will push for more reforms aimed at speeding up processes in the telecommunications sector.

A draft of the proposed JMC for the streamlined guidelines on the issuance of permits, licenses, and certificates for the construction of poles, excavation of underground fiber ducts, and the installation of aerial and underground broadband cables on physical infrastructure was discussed in a meeting with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the World Bank Group (WBG) on Wednesday.

This comes after ARTA signed the revised and expanded JMC on the streamlining of the permitting process of shared Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructure (PTTIs) on 1 July 2021.

Secretary Jeremiah Belgica, ARTA Director General, said he is “very excited” to continue working on the streamlining of processes in the telecommunications sector, which is among the five priority sectors in the National Effort for the Harmonization of Efficiency Measures of Interrelated Agencies (NEHEMIA) Program.

“Among all the sectors of NEHEMIA, telecommunications is the most pronounced in terms of achievements,” he said on Wednesday.

“We already have some momentum and the people are already aware of the gains of the NEHEMIA program. Sakyan na natin. Let’s continue to ride the wave,” he added.

After the signing of the original JMC on streamlining the permitting process for PTTIs, at least 26,636 pending permits in the telecommunications sector were released as of June 2021.

It has also decreased the number of permits needed from 13 to 8, documentary requirements from 86 to 15, and length of time for processing from 241 days to 16 days.

According to Ookla Survey, the Philippines is at the 75th place out of 137 countries when it comes to mobile internet speed and 62nd among 181 countries in terms of fixed broadband speed as of June 2021. Belgica credited the country’s improved internet speed to the accelerated building of PTTIs.

ARTA will be setting a meeting with local government units to discuss their concerns on the cable-laying and poles installation of telecommunications companies.

The agency will also meet with the City and Municipal Engineers Association of the Philippines (CMEAP), Federation of International Cable TV Associations of the Philippines (FICTAP), and the Philippine Cable and Telecommunications Association (PCTA) to further discuss the proposed JMC.

The Authority will also consult with the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) to determine the anti-competitive practices limiting telecommunications providers in subdivision or condominium units.