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DICT wants to use spectrum users fee for funding digital infrastructure programs

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The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is seeking support for the use of spectrum users fees (SUF) as a capital outlay—as a fund for the department’s digital infrastructure programs.

On top of other existing fees, SUFs are charged annually by the National Telecommunications Commission to mobile network operators so the latter have a license to use specific bands of radio frequencies.

During a recent House hearing, DICT Undersecretary Emmanuel Rey Caintic told the Committee on Good Governance and Public Accountability that with the way SUFs are classified as an expense vis-à-vis the department’s free Wi-FI internet project, the SUFs cannot be used for acquiring their own very small aperture terminal (VSAT) tech.

Caintic cites that as one reason why the DICT resorts to awarding contracts to suppliers instead of purchasing VSATs outright. Should the DICT be granted to unlock their SUF as a capital outlay, Caintic says he is confident that his department can eventually manage the tech on their own after an initial outsourced assistance.

Currently, some members in the House of Representatives have expressed support for the DICT to utilize SUF.

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