DICT says local telcos now backing common tower policy

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said the two incumbent telco players and an incoming one are supportive of the common tower policy being pushed by the government.

Acting DICT secretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr.

In a DICT-led consultation meeting on Monday, February 18, representatives from Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, and Mislatel consortium stated their willingness to collaborate with the initiative in front of interested tower providers, including the 11 firms which already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the DICT.   

The support of telco operators will be pivotal to the smooth implementation of the common tower policy, which is expected to improve telecommunication services while lowering down its cost. 

“Shared [passive] facilities through this policy would cut back unnecessary expenses from the telco operators and subscribers will benefit from this,” acting DICT Secretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr. said.

During the consultation, the DICT requested the telcos to submit a list of areas and number of cell sites that their respective operations will need as guide for the policy.

Since December 2018, the Department already inked MOUs with ISOC Infrastructures, Singapore’s ISON ECP Tower, IHS Towers, Edotco Group, RT Telecom of Malaysia, China Energy Engineering Corp, Aboitiz InfraCapital and MGS Construction.

American Towers, Frontier Tower Associates Management, and Phil Tower Consortium (Global Networks Inc. and JTower Inc.) also the signed the same arrangement with the DICT on Tuesday, February 19.

The tower firms must first secure a business contract from the telcos for the government to provide assistance through facilitation of permits, right of way, and other government permits for infrastructure.  

The DICT is set to finalize the common tower policy by the 2nd quarter of 2019.

Meanwhile, the DICT has ordered the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to seek finality on the Congress resolution involving the Mislatel franchise.

According to Rio, there is still a need for the House of Representatives to formally adopt the Senate Resolution on the transfer of ownership of Mislatel before the NMP title holder can obtain its Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the NTC.

“[The] DICT is instructing NTC to exercise prudence by way of requesting the House to issue a formal declaration to the effect that it does not object to the Senate Resolution, prior to the issuance of the CPCN to Mislatel consortium,” Rio said in a statement.

Although concurring to Senator Grace Poe that a bicameral procedure is not necessary anymore to address the matter, Rio insisted it is best to wait for the official act of the Lower House out of respect for the legislative process.

“Until this is done, in order not to pre-empt Congress and in due regard to the separation of powers of the legislative and the executive, the DICT cannot take further action on the matter,” he said.

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