Final draft of common tower policy out next month
Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - February 27, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The government is seeking to strike a balance in the crafting of the country’s first ever common tower policy due to opposing views.

Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan said the agency is looking at releasing the final draft of the common tower policy next month.

“We want to make sure that all the inputs from all the players are heard. So what we did was we called on all the players that are involved, we got their inputs, and then we consolidated. Of course not everyone is happy,” he said.

Honasan was earlier looking at September or October last year to release a new draft version of the policy after the original draft, which was presented by Presidential adviser on economic affairs and information technology communications Ramon Jacinto in 2018, met opposition from tower providers, telecommunications firms and other stakeholders.

Issues on certain provisions of the draft policy, including those highly-debated ones have remained unresolved, prompting the agency to issue last November a notice of consultations and submissions for the rulemaking on the policy on shared passive ICT infrastructure.

DICT said all stakeholders from the government sector, academe, and relevant industries are given another round to submit their written inputs and comments.

Among the highly debated areas of the proposed policy for the sharing of telecommunications towers include the number of tower companies that will be allowed to operate as well as whether or not telcos should be prohibited from building their own towers.

The DICT also sought more inputs in terms of the provisions on the ownership requirements of the independent tower companies, as well as on their financial and technical qualifications.

National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) deputy commissioner Edgardo Cabarios said the delay in the issuance of the final draft is understandable given the decision which DICT has to make, particularly on the highly-debated provisions.

“It really takes quite some time because you have to balance everything out. It’s hard on the part of decision maker, especially if not everyone agrees,” Cabarios said.

The DICT is the agency mandated to come up with the country’s common tower policy.

The agency targets to roll out at least 50,000 cellular towers across the country within the next seven to 10 years as part of its common tower initiative.

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