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  • Writer's pictureZiggurat Realestatecorp

Amend building code to allow digital connectivity

An advocacy group championing the interest of consumers is calling on legislators to act with urgency on the bill amending the 50-year-old National Building Code of the Philippines to be responsive to the digital economy and treat connectivity as a basic utility like power, water, and sanitation.

“Residential and commercial spaces need to have provisions to connect with digital infrastructure,” said lawyer Teofilo Abejo, co-convenor of CitizenWatch Philippines. “Our building code needs to be updated to be responsive to the emerging digital economy.”

Abejo’s group had earlier pushed for the crafting of a telecommunication infrastructure code but said the Building Code of 1977 first needs to be updated.

“Developers of residential and commercial properties, both horizontal and vertical, need to understand their responsibility in providing connectivity as early as the project inception phase,” he said.

At the House of Representatives, HB900 – “An Act Providing for the Telecommunications Technology Readiness of Buildings and Structures, Amending Certain Sections of Presidential Decree 1096, Otherwise Known as the National Building Code” – has been introduced by Rep. Christian Tell Yap but some improvements can still be made on the proposal, Abejo said.

“In advanced economies, having a mobile phone and a reliable broadband connection are as normal as having electricity or running water,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the original plans of some communities and high-rise buildings that are under development do not even contain such provisions the way they do for water or power. This is not acceptable in this information age,” Abejo said.

Abejo pointed out that demand for telecommunication facilities can only increase especially after the pandemic-driven lockdowns forced many to find ways to remain connected for school, work, and even everyday personal transactions.

Unfortunately, most property developers are not able to provide necessary interaction and even space allocation for the delivery of basic telecommunication services.

“We believe that communication and digital connectivity are a basic human right that plays a critical role in our nation’s transformation to digitally enabled and competitive country in the digital global economy.”

The amended building code will ensure that developers will integrate connectivity prior to occupancy.

“Telecommunication and ICT infrastructure will be seen as a part of mandatory requirements to obtaining a building permit,” said Abejo. “A registered professional electronic engineer will sign such plans, which in turn will be part of at least five sets of corresponding plans and specifications.”

“Amendments also include the requirement that people moving into new developments should have ready access to high-quality broadband and voice services,” Abejo said.

Source: Philstar

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