Signal strength in polling areas still unknown

by Reynaldo Santos Jr., Newsbreak

Posted at Nov 18 2009 07:29 PM | Updated as of Nov 19 2009 06:02 AM

Five months before Election Day, election machine provider Smartmatic-TIM is yet to complete its survey of telecommunication signal strength in poll precincts nationwide.
The November deadline was pushed another month—end of December—because of the recent natural calamities that struck various parts of the country, according to Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Gregorio Larazzabal.
Three of four batches of inspectors have been deployed, according to Larazzabal. The last batch will be deployed this month in areas in the remaining areas in the Visayas ang Mindanao.
Smartmatic-TIM will depend on telecommunication companies—Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, Digitel and local communications providers—for the electronic transmission of elections results. With the assistance of the National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC), Smartmatic-TIM is also working with the same companies in conducting the site surveys.
Larazzabal said Smartmatic has reported “scattered areas” in the country with limited or no telecommunication signal. But he said it’s too early to discuss those areas with the media until the survey is completed.
Inspite the delay, Larazzabal said there is no cause for concern. “If there are no means [of telecommunication], Smartmatic is required to provide adequate telecommunication in the election,” he said.
Larazzabal said the Comelec is also prepared for “different levels of failure” that can happen to the machines. “In the elections, we have contingency measures so that people can still vote in case the machine does not work. Definitely the election will push through,” he said.
Election lawyer Harry Roque previously raised concerns about his findings that Smartmatic-TIM has no budget allocated for satellite communication when it was required by Comelec to provide facilities to areas with no telecommunication facilities.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez reiterated assurances that Smartmatic will continue to supply telecommunication facilities for the election and  “will live up to the responsibilities stated in the contract.” (Newsbreak)