Globe Telecom has written an open letter to customers in 25 villages explaining that it can’t improve coverage and capacity in their area because their homeowner associations (HOAs) and/or barangays won’t give them permission to install new base stations.
The letter said that despite Globe’s investments in network upgrades over the last five years (to the tune of $750 million per year) to meet capacity/bandwidth requirements of customers as well as government coverage requirements, the cellco has been denied the necessary permits and right-of-way approval from HOAs:
The simple truth is that we are not being allowed to construct cell sites or the smaller ODAs, roll out fiber optic cables, and other telecommunications facilities in your area which are necessary to improve mobile signals and provide access to internet services.
The chief reason given by the HOAs, Globe says, is concerns over the alleged radiation hazards coming from the cell sites, which Globe said is scientifically baseless, and offered the documentation to prove it:
We would like to provide you information and findings from the World Health Organization (WHO) (View Findings) and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) (View Findings), both globally recognized and highly respected institutions who have the expertise in determining whether these facilities do impact health and well-being of the citizens in the area. Their studies will attest to the fact that cell sites have no adverse effects to human health. Our Department of Health has taken all the necessary precautions in ensuring that even with global standards, the Philippine standard of thermal (heat) emissions from local cell sites are at least four times lower than what has been approved globally. Dr. Agnette Peralta, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health, also an internationally recognized expert who is currently a member of the Main Commission of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, publicly expressed this when she spoke about the subject at the recent DICT-led Philippine Telecommunications Summit held last March 9-10, 2017. In fact, the allegations are so ridiculous that US federal regulations prohibit denial of permits due to health hazard claims.
[NOTE: That last point is true, as long as the site complies with the FCC’s RF guidelines. – Ed.]
The Globe letter goes on to say that it needs residents to put pressure on the HOAs and barangays to address the issue, as both residents and HOAs are “held equally responsible in ensuring your areas are covered by mobile signal and internet connectivity.”
Globe even went as far as to invoke the 2016 declaration from the United Nations Human Rights Council that internet access is now a basic human right – which means:
If the homeowner’s associations will continue to disallow telecommunications facilities inside villages, then they are violating the rights of residents who are being deprived of their right to internet access.
The villages covered in the letter include: Forbes Park, Dasmarinas, Magallanes, San Lorenzo, Bel-Air, Green Meadows, La Vista, Greenhills North, Fruitville, JEE Village, BF Homes, Merville, South Bay Garden, Concepcion, Modesta, Loyola Grand Villas, Jaybee, St. Mary’s Subdivision, Vista Real Classica Subdivision, Meteor Homes, Valle Verde 1, Kings Vill Executive Village, Smile CitiHomes Condominium, Thomas Homes, and Vista Rio.
In a separate statement, Globe chief information and technology officer Gil Genio said that not all HOAs reject right-of-way applications because of radiation fears – Globe has similar issues with its fixed broadband rollouts, in which radiation isn’t an issue. Genio said some HOAs are either simply too slow, or object to construction or installation of structures within their respective villages, or demand that Globe work out a co-location arrangement with utility company Meralco for the joint use of its electric poles (although Genio noted Meralco often says no,).
Genio even accused some HOAs of denying Globe’s permit applications because residents are already served by “the other provider”:
“By standing in the way of our efforts to build more cell sites, these HOAs effectively favor one service provider over the others, thus, are in complicity in monopolistic practices. This is contrary to public service laws since Globe must comply with the same public service laws if a customer asks for service,” Genio said.