PLDT, Smart lobby for lower regulatory fees

Industry giant PLDT Inc. is lobbying for lower regulatory fees to incentivize the expansion in unserved and underserved areas across the country.

In a statement on Tuesday, PLDT and wireless subsidiary Smart Communications said the government needed to implement “affordable and reasonable regulatory” so more investments would be channeled toward building network infrastructure.

This was spurred by a recent hearing on the Open Access in Data Transmission Act hosted by the Senate Economic Planning Office.

“If the goal of this bill is to ensure universal internet or data coverage, it must avoid the trap of not setting out the objective in the law and ensure that data facilities and the much-needed fiber find their way to the unserved and underserved areas,” said Roy Ibay, Smart vice president and head of regulatory affairs.

Ibay said they could also expand in areas lacking coverage via the removal of roadblocks and costs imposed by certain local governments, such as tower fees, inspection fees and audit fees.

Smart also wants the national government to begin charging uniform spectrum users fees based on a “per kHz per population.”

This would replace the prevailing wireless broadband formula which, it said, “discourages and punishes deployment of more wireless facilities in using a per station, per kilohertz computation.”

“Last year alone, Smart spent P2.4 billion on fees, which could have been spent on actual physical facilities to improve telecom services,” Ibay said.

PLDT earlier allocated a record full-year capital spending budget of P88 billion up to P92 billion in 2021.

PLDT also recorded a 4-percent growth in core profit last year to P28.1 billion despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Total service revenues during the period hit P171.5 billion, up 9 percent.

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