Common tower firms urged to build cell sites in rural areas

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The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) must encourage tower companies to build common towers in rural areas, according to an Internet rights advocacy group.

Democracy.Net.PH co-founder Pierre Tito Galla said the rollout of the cell towers and supporting infrastructure will help improve the delivery of Internet and mobile services in the provinces.

“They should add more towers. Common towers will have the opportunity to expand the ICT services as well as data and mobile Internet services to the rural areas. The biggest need is in the rural areas,” Galla said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Wednesday, June 26.

At least 2,500 sites, which are mostly owned by the DICT and other government agencies, were identified as locations for the common towers.

Major telco firm Globe Telecom has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with ISOC Infrastructure and Malaysia-based edotco Group to build 150 cell sites within the Calabarzon region, comprised of the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon.

“It’s disappointing if the 2,500 cell sites are going to be mainly located in urban areas. These areas already have their towers built by the telcos,” said Galla.

Galla likewise backed the decision of DICT acting secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. of liberalizing the number of companies that can build the towers across the country.

“There is definitely a need for us to bootstrap our own ICT and if the government decides to prioritize entry in the rural areas that’s where the families of our farmers and fisherfolk will have access. It will definitely be an economic game-changer in the provinces,” Galla said.

The DICT has signed agreements with 23 tower companies to build 50,000 cell towers within seven to 10 years. The department intends to finalize the guidelines on the common tower initiative by September. — Aerol John Pateña (PNA)

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