28 November 2022 – Starting October this year, PLDT Incorporated (Inc.) and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications Inc. have secured an additional 68,000 fixed and wireless permits in Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, and Palawan alone. This will assist the company’s network rollout and hasten their service delivery, the PLDT said in a statement.

The number of passed permits from October to November 2022 has exceeded the total 68, 711 permits secured by three major telco companies in 2021. 

The company has credited this to the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), the National Telecommunications Company (NTC), and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) for streamlining the government’s permitting process for the telecommunications sector.

Vice President and Head of Regulatory Affairs Atty. Roy D. Ibay said that the company welcomes all opportunities to partner with the government to realize its digitalization goals through enhacing the country’s digital infrastructure.

“We will continue working with ARTA and other government agencies who have helped fast-track the permitting process, in further ramping up the rollout of PLDT’s fiber infrastructure and Smart’s cell sites nationwide,” he reiterated.

Reforms in the telecommunication sector, in particular by ARTA, supports the government’s thrust to streamline and digitalize its services as directed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

ARTA previously led the drafting of three Joint Memorandum Circulars (JMCs) that aimed to streamline the processes and requirements in setting up telecommunications towers and poles.

According to the World Bank study, the Revised JMC No. 1, s. 2021 or Revising and Expanding JMC No. 1, s. 2020 or the Streamlined Guidelines for Permits, Licenses and Certificates for Construction of Shared Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructure paved the way for the decrease of the number of needed permits from 13 to 8, documentary requirements from 86 to 35, and length of time for processing from 241 days to 16 days.

On the other hand, JMC No. 1, s. 2021 or the Streamlined Guidelines for the Issuance of Permits and Clearances for the Erection of Poles, Construction of Underground Fiber Ducts and Installation of Aerial and underground Cables and Facilities of Accelerate the Roll-out of Telecommunications and Internet Infrastructure, specifically on Pole Erection and Pole Attachment, has decreased the number of needed permits from 11 to 5, documentary requirements from 62 to 26, and length of time for processing time of 868 days to 74 days.

“ARTA welcomes this huge accomplishment of PDLT and Smart Inc. When we started the streamlinining reforms in the telco sector in 2020, ARTA was optimistic that we would be seeing its effects in the next two years and this is indeed part of it”, ARTA Secretary Ernesto Perez stated.

The ARTA chief expressed that the Authority is even more determined to push for intensified reforms under PBBM’s administration.

“We have been meeting with our stakeholders from the telco sector to pinpoint the bottlenecks and areas of improvement. In fact, the solutions for concerns gathered during our numerous consultations will be featured in our upcoming Telco Summit 2022”, he added.

The Authority is set to hold its Telco Sector Forum on 6 December 2022. It will be attended by stakeholders in public and private sector.