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Ensuring internet access

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Consumer group Bantay Konsyumer, Kalsada, Kuryente (BK3) is urging the government to set aside more budget for internet infrastructure in the country, saying that internet connection is a human right and that investments in broadband infrastructure should be a priority as access to the internet should not be limited.

According to the group, government data shows that the country is still miles behind its neighboring countries in terms of broadband connectivity, due to the lack of infrastructure. Data from the National Telecommunications Commission in 2021 showed that there are more than 22,000 cell sites in the country, which is less than a third of Vietnam’s 90,000, and that they are shared between three telcos. The Private Sector Advisory Council proposes 35,000 additional cell sites.

According to the Asian Development Bank, the Philippines has the lowest coverage rates of telecom towers in the Southeast Asian region, and will need an additional 60,000 towers by 2031 in remote areas.

Several lawmakers and stakeholders in the telecommunications industry have also suggested the revision of the National Building Code of 1977 to remove the lease for telecommunications infrastructure to help telcos get access to cell sites faster and help address internet connectivity woes in the country.

The world has evolved and developed so that an internet connection has truly become a basic human right. As such, it should be the government’s concern to ensure that all Filipinos have access to it, especially through better coverage, quality, and reliability of the service that many of us have become dependent on. A reassessment of the laws and codes that could prevent this goal from being achieved should be a priority, along with providing the necessary support to government and private sector efforts to make the internet available to more.*

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