Metro Manila is most problematic in the deployment of new cell sites with main issues ranging from social acceptability, neighbors’ opposition and homeowners associations’ restrictions due to aesthetic reasons, family conflicts and political bickering among local government officials, Globe Telecom said.
Globe plans to build more cell sites in Metro Manila as part of its initiative to continue building on its network capacities for faster internet experience of its customers nationwide. “Metro Manila is critical in the deployment of new cell sites as many of our customers are also concentrated in this area. However, there is a myriad of issues that restrains realization of our plans to establish more cell sites in the area and improve the internet experience of our customers” said Joel Agustin, Globe Senior Vice President for Program Governance, Network Technical Group.
For instance, many home owners oppose the deployment of cell sites in their villages due to a perceived health risk. To this, Agustin emphasized that the World Health Organization, cancer.org, UNICEF and the Philippine Department of Health have already addressed such concerns, emphasizing that cell sites do not pose any health hazard. In fact, these organizations have expressed support for the use of mobile phones and the technology in their various health projects.
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Agustin also said that prior to installation of cell site equipment, the health department, as commissioned by the National Telecommunications Commission, also grants permits to make sure emissions from cell sites are within set standards and not harmful to health. It is also under the discretion of the health department to continuously monitor the emission settings of the cell site equipment after installation. The international exposure guidelines are set by the International Commission on Non Ionizing Radiation Protection and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.
Further, political squabbling when local government executives are from opposing parties as well as lack of property documentations and a host of other issues hamper deployment of new cell sites. These issues include imposition of tower fees prior to processing of cell site permit application; required tower height exceeds allowable height imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, lack of proof of documentation to prove ownership; tax arrears; existing property has no permits which is a prerequisite for application of cell site permits; proposed location is a mortgaged property and the bank is not willing to issue bank consent, among others, Agustin said.
Following the conclusion of the recent national and local polls, the election of new local government officials in a given locality poses another challenge for telecom operators as it could cause delay in the processing of permits particularly in areas where the elected local official isn’t the incumbent, he added. Aside from Metro Manila, other problematic areas include Cebu, Davao, North Luzon and South Luzon areas.
As part of its network build, Globe is currently expanding its network coverage and capacity in various areas all over the country across all technologies, including 3G & LTE, for faster internet experience of its customers nationwide. As a requirement for its capacity expansion drive, Globe needs to improve cell site density, a necessary prerequisite in improving data connectivity of its customers in terms of speed and access.
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Telecom operators need to secure an average of 25 permits at the local government level to build a single cell site and this process takes at least 8 months to complete even before the necessary infrastructure can be built, costing an average of around P18 million per site.
In line with its thrust of building its network capacity, Globe made a call early this year for local governments to support its network infrastructure build. The city government of Manila was the first LGU to respond to the call. This led Globe to initiate the deployment of fiber broadband technology in Binondo, which will provide the district with world-class internet experience with speeds of up to 1Gbps.