This week, Philippine stakeholders will come together for the first Philippine Telecoms Summit 2017 over two days, March 9 and 10, 2017.
The telecoms summit carries the theme “Telecommunications for Nation Building: National Consensus and Solutions for Progress” — aiming to serve as a vehicle towards better internet and telecoms services . The Philippine Chamber of Telecommunications Operators (PCTO), in partnership with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), will be bringing together various industry stakeholders — government agencies and regulators, industry players, experts, and consumers in one event. Expected to be at the forefront in all the panel discussions are the problems and issues surrounding the state of telecommunications today.
At a media briefing, Eric De Los Reyes, chairman of PCTO, gave an introduction to PCTO and its objectives.
PCTO was organized and incorporated as early as 2003. This is the umbrella organization of telcos nationwide. Members are all the telcos in the country like Globe, PLDT, Smart, etc. While members compete for market share, they share a common bond – a common goal to help government.
Some of PCTO’s objectives are:
- To serve as vehicles for the rollout of the latest telecom technologies
- To establish vital communications linkages among different regions of country and throughout the world
- To foster cooperation relations among telcos
- To serve as primary coordinating body with the private sector
- To support government, especially the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and DICT, in the operations and implementation of policies and rules that will benefit the telecoms sector
DICT Secretary Rodolfo A. Salalima called upon all stakeholders to bring not only concerns and issues to the table but solutions with a timeline as well. “I want the problems and challenges all out during the Summit, because if not, we will not know how to find a solution,” Salalima said. He went on to say that while this summit will be a “no holds barred” one, it “will not be a blame game…” but rather a way to “move forward and fast track ICT”.
For starters, Salalima said that he had asked regulators to measure the performance of telcos and report the state of telecoms in the Philippines during the summit. However, he said that he also expected critics to come up with solutions to their critique with timelines. He emphasized that concerns of consumers can only be addressed if concerns of telcos are also included.
The ASEAN Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Master Plan 2015’s strategic thrusts were meant to deliver four key outcomes. The two more important ones in terms of ICT were: 1) ICT as an engine of growth for ASEAN countries; 2) Recognition for ASEAN as a global ICT hub.
The telecom summit comes at an opportune time with the formal creation of the DICT to oversee all ICT endeavors. It is also a response to the growing demand for faster, reliable, and more robust internet.
Three main issues will be the focal point of the summit: Cost, Coverage and Speed of the telecommunications services in the country. Included in the discussions will be possible solutions to fix such issues with the cooperation of all stakeholders. Different interest groups will be given the opportunity to present their concerns on these three issues and dialogue with all participants.
At the end of the summit, a draft Executive Order for the President to sign (“Mandating All Local Government Units and Agencies to Expedite Processing of Permits and Licenses”) will be presented as well as two draft bills:
- An Act strengthening the vital role of information and communications technology, amending for the purpose pertinent provisions of Presidential Decree 957, also known as the “Subdivision and Condominium Buyer Protective Decree”, as amended by Presidential Decree 1216
- An Act providing for the telecommunications technology readiness of buildings and structures, amending certain sections of Presidential Decree 1091, otherwise known as the “National Building Code”
Several Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) are also expected to be signed among the DICT, telcos, LGUs, relevant government agencies, and other stakeholders as “consensus among all players to work on concrete solutions.”
The summit will be livestreamed so that the public can participate, particularly in the Tapatan portion of the summit on each day.
Secretary Salalima concluded his statement with this message: “You have the power to use ICT as an enabler for education, enterprise, governance, and social empowerment.”
Below is the summit program:
This post is supported by a writing grant from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).