On Feb 2, NordCham paid a courtesy visit to the Office of the DICT Secretary, Atty. Rodolfo Salalima, to discuss policy direction and plans of the new department. Sec. Salalima stated that the general policy direction of the department shall remain true to what is mandated by the law, which is to be the lead department for the national ICT development, public access, consumer protection, and countryside development. He also noted that investor should “forget the political noise, as the President is all about business”. However, Sec. Salalima noted that as of the moment the DICT is still in the “organizing” phase wherein they are still identifying key personnel requirements.
During the discussion on the lack of competition in the telco industry, the Secretary stated that the DICT wants more telecommunication players in the country as such they are initiating an inventory audit of the country’s frequency allocation. He estimated that Globe and PLDT (Smart) accounts for 66% of the total supply with 33% still up for grabs for at least 2 more players.
NordCham also raised the issue on the lack of ICT infrastructure development in the country and the Secretary acknowledged this. However, he noted that the delays are not necessarily caused by the telco players as they have already allocated funds for these developments. The Secretary sees the bottleneck lies in the permits and licensing of the LGUs where private villages often resist the construction of cell sites in their vicinity. To resolve this concern, the department is looking into streamlining the permit and licensing process to 7 days thereby reducing delay in the construction of ICT infrastructure.