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Duterte, Globe Telecom Boss Tackle Tower-Building Woes

'Drastic' measures needed to improve services, President says.
by Joel Guinto
Jul 31, 2020
Photo/s: Presidential Communications (Government of the Philippines)

President Rodrigo Duterte said he told Globe CEO Ernest Cu jokingly that he would hang him from a cell tower unless services improve. He said the telecom executive told him there was not enough towers to get hanged from. In a nationally televised meeting at the Palace, the two discussed how to make connections faster during the COVID-19 quarantine.

Cu related to the President how long it took to build telecommunications towers. Globe and Smart Communications are rolling out new fiber and 5G infrastructure as stay-at-home orders drive data demand. Duterte said telecom executives should report their concerns directly to Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez, his long-time aide Sen. Bong Go or to generals.

"Sumbong nyo na lang diretso (Go straight to these officials). Order ko sa Cabinet ngayon is to take the most drastic measure you can find para magkainidihan na tayo," Duterte said. "This is my last mile. I make no apologies about it. Basta ako, nagtatrabaho lang (I'm just doing my job)."

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Saying he too had experienced hearing "cannot be reached" on the other end of the line, Duterte addressed telcos: "Kindly improve the services before December. I want to call Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. Better have that line cleared."

Globe said it earmarked $1.2 billion (P59 billion) for capital expenditures this year, "majority" of which goes to building network and capacity. The mobile version of its 5G service will launch this year after 5G for home. Internet tracker Open Signal recently ranked the Philippines fourth most improved in terms of mobile video experience.