By Arjay L. Balinbin

THE DISRUPTION to Internet service during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) has been “minimal” with the infrastructure able to handle the huge surge in traffic, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said.

Wala pa namang major [disruptions]…. Tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang ating connectivity, walang nag-crash. Of course, may time na mabagal, pero considering na halos lahat tayo ay connected to the Internet, masasabi natin na kaya ng ating infrastructure ngayon this traffic that we are experiencing (No major disruptions have happened. Connectivity remains continuous. Of course, there are episodes when service slows down, but when you consider that most of us are connected to the Internet, we can conclude that our infrastructure can handle the additional traffic)” Mr. Rio told BusinessWorld in a phone interview Saturday.

Mr. Rio added that the telecommunications providers “are… doing their best. While we want better performance, this is a big improvement from what we had two to three years ago.”

“Had this crisis happened two years ago, the infrastructure could not handle this traffic that we are handling now. ‘Yung nagpaganda talaga ng ating infrastructure (What has improved our infrastructure) is the fixed-line (connection) to the Internet because of the telecommuting law,” he added.

He said household subscriptions to fixed-line Internet services have increased because of the telecommuting law, or Republic Act 11165, which President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed in December 2018. The law provides for telecommuting as an alternative work arrangement for employees in the private sector.

Dati most of us ay naka-connect sa mobile data network for the Internet kaya congested, kulang na kulang ang cell sites natin (Because many of us use mobile to connect, service here has been congested. We lack the cell site capacity),” Mr. Rio noted.

He said the issues faced by Internet service providers during the lockdown period are the blocking of their personnel by local government units (LGUs) and homeowners’ associations in private residential areas.

The DICT reminded LGUs and homeowners associations not to block telco personnel as they are classified as “essential” services.

The department said reports on telecom workers not being allowed to go through checkpoints and denied access to subdivisions are among the issues brought up by the industry with the DICT and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

The NTC has ordered all telecom companies to ensure uninterrupted service during the enhanced community quarantine.