Ramon Jacinto softens stance on common tower limit
Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - January 25, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential adviser on economic affairs and information technology communications Ramon Jacinto is softening his stance on his controversial proposal that limits the number of independent common tower firms in the country initially to two, but maintains that a certain cap should be maintained instead of opening the market to interested companies.

Jacinto is now willing to let his initial proposal go and allow up to four tower providers to operate in the country.

“As long as there is a cap in the first four years. It can be more than two, but it cannot be that everyone can build,” Jacinto said.

“And the telcos, Globe and Smart, cannot build because they were the ones who caused the problem. If you allow them to build their own, they will not lease to the others. They will only use their own towers. Then we’re back to the same problem,” he said.

Information and Communications Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio has expressed grave concern over the proposed draft common towers policy by Jacinto.

Under the draft policy pushed by Jacinto, a maximum of two independent tower companies will be registered by the NTC in the first four years of the implementation of the common tower policy, after which the NTC may register new tower firms if necessary, especially in rural areas.

Deployment of all telecommunications towers will be performed only by the NTC-registered tower companies, except when it is unable to do so despite the request from the telco operators.

Rio earlier said Jacinto’s insistence that the number of common towers provider be limited to two is being questioned by Philippine Competition Commission, the Office of the Solicitor General, and the industry as a whole as being “anti-competitive, violative of several laws, and runs counter to the principle in our Constitution that prevents monopolies.”

During a Senate hearing yesterday, Rio said Jacinto’s proposed policy would not be implemented as long as he is the acting secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

“In fact, I will be the one signing this policy, not Jacinto,” Rio said.

Jacinto earlier said the implementation of the policy would be done by incoming Sec. Honasan and the NTC, so Rio would have little or no say in it.

Sen. Grace Poe is also opposed to Jacinto’s proposal, seeing it as counterproductive to the government’s aim of improving telecommunications infrastructure in the country.

The DICT, for its part, has decided to open up the local market to all interested common cellular tower builders as long as they are able to secure contracts with telecommunications companies.

Rio believes there is no reason to limit the number of common tower developers in the country as long as they can get customers, which are the telco operators, for the towers that they will be building.

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