DPWH issues order allowing telcos to build infra along national roads

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The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has issued Department Order (DO) No. 29 removing a “bottleneck” that prevented telecom service providers from constructing crucial infrastructure projects along national roads.

Photo credit: DPWH

The order issued by DPWH secretary Mark Villar last March 23, 2021 amended DO No. 73 issued in 2014 outlining the department’s policy on telco and Internet infrastructures to comply with the Bayanihan laws.

Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Bayanihan 1) paved the way for faster approval of permits and clearances from local government units to hasten the construction of cell towers, while RA 11494 otherwise known as the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) waived several permitting requirements for the telcos.

With the new order supporting the objectives of Bayanihan 2, information and communications technology (ICT) service providers are now allowed to construct and undertake excavations and restoration works for infrastructure projects within the allowable right of way limits of national roads. This will be determined by the concerned District Engineering Office of the DPWH.

In 2014, the DPWH issued an order prohibiting telecom and power companies from constructing posts along national roads as it “creates imminent danger to lives and properties and hamper relief operations” during calamities.

Last October 2020, both the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) asked the DPWH to consider the proposed changes to the previous department order.

Both agencies said the restrictions slowed down the rollout of critical telco infrastructure amid the rising demand for affordable, quality, and reliable ICT connectivity due to the shift to work-from-home arrangements and distance learning as a result of mobility restrictions.

Ayala-owned Globe Telecom cited the DPWH, saying the order will lead to faster network builds in the country.

“We thank the DPWH for its proactive action as this department order will help accelerate the deployment of ICT infrastructure as the country continues to battle the effects of the pandemic,” said Froilan Castelo, general counsel of Globe.

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