MANILA - Sen. Grace Poe on Friday blamed the National Telecommunications Commission's "incompetence" for the slow internet speeds in the Philippines, saying the agency has not pushed for the construction of cellular towers in the country.
As of 2018, the Philippines has nearly 17,000 cell sites, while regional peers Indonesia and Vietnam have 91,000, and 70,000 cell towers, respectively, according to data from Globe Telecom.
"Napaka incompetent talaga ng regulator natin, I am sorry to say," Poe told Teleradyo's Failon Ngayon.
(We have a very incompetent regular, I am sorry to say.)
"'Yung NTC, dapat talaga 'yan ang inaatupag nila. Iba ang inaatupag e... Hindi lang 'yan sa administrasyong ito, marami diyan carry over from the past [administrations]," she said.
(This is what the NTC should have been working on. They are focusing on something else... Not just in this administration, but including others who were appointed from past administrations.)
The criticism against the NTC comes as the country's education and business sectors shift to online classes and work-from-home schemes to limit the public's possible exposure to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
In 2017, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said 250,000 WiFi spots and 47,000 cell sites would be built in the country in the coming years.
Telcos have yet to report how many new cell towers have been built in the last few years, Poe said.
"Siguro kami (senators) na lang magpapa-report directly, monthly dito sa mga telco kung ano ang kanilang ginagawa at kung kailangan mag-file ng mga kaso sa kung kani-kanino," she said.
(Maybe we will just ask telcos to report to the Senate directly, monthly on what they have been doing and if cases need to be filed against several people.)
Poe's Senate Committee on Public Services is expected to hold a hearing next week to look into the state of the country's internet during the global pandemic.