DICT pitches telecom spectrum user fee to drive telco investment

THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said Congress needs to legislate a spectrum user fee (SUF) to ensure the sustainability of telecommunications industry development and improve access to the internet.

At a House hearing Tuesday, Information and Communications Undersecretary Emmanuel Rey R. Caintic said the SUF was on the DICT’s wish list when legislators were discussing the proposed third Bayanihan economic stimulus package. The DICT said the fee can only be imposed by law. The funding generated by the fee will allow more fiber connectivity in remote areas.

“If you will allow us… (to unlock the) spectrum users fee, we will be able to invest in digital infrastructure… so that it is sustainable, economical, and better,” he said, in response to Catanduanes Rep. Hector S. Sanchez’s question on the DICT’s plan to “fiberize” the telecom infrastructure.

The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability was holding the hearing Tuesday to debate House Resolution No. 1751, investigating irregularities in the implementation of the free public Wi-Fi program.

The DICT said the program has enabled up to 6,000 communities along the so-called last mile to access free internet services.

Mr. Caintic said the free Wi-Fi roll-out was carried out in partnership with the United Nations Development Program. It has led to the activation of 9,122 sites. Mr. Caintic said in 2021, more sites will be set up and funds are available to establish 14,000 more. — Gillian M. Cortez