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‘Tower firms need to deliver despite strict schedule’

Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - January 1, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines needs to complete thousands of common towers annually under a strict delivery schedule, as the country plays catch-up with the rest of the world in terms of internet speed and telco services.

Presidential adviser for telecommunications RJ Jacinto said priority and incentives should be given to those who can guarantee the financial commitment and strict delivery schedule.

“We need to play catch up big time which is why we need highly qualified and well-financed and experienced international tower companies to come in and commit to invest, finish and maintain and operate common towers in 40,000 to 50,000 tower locations – not counting duplications – on a strict completion schedule,” Jacinto told The STAR.

Jacinto said the country needs to complete at least 5,000 to 10,00 common towers a year, noting that catching up with the world requires the cooperation of everyone.

Data from the National Telecommunications Commission showed that there are 22,405 towers and cell sites in the country as of November, with Globe and Smart each having more than 10,000.

There are at least 24 tower companies which have previously indicated their interest in participating in the government’s common tower initiative.

The government, through the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), issued last May the much anticipated guidelines for the common tower policy.

Under the policy, the DICT encourages the growth and development of independent tower companies (ITCs) as a pioneering sector for the birth and development of a robust ICT environment of shared passive telecommunications tower infrastructure, in line with the overall objective of enhancing wireless network coverage and quality of ICT services across the entire country.

It seeks to widen the base of tower providers to fast-track the deployment of common towers across all regions of the country, especially in the unserved and underserved areas.

For its part, Jacinto said the government has done its part by reducing red tape to build towers.

The Anti-Red Tape Authority joint memorandum circular issued last July has spurred local government units all over the country to release a record number of permits to telcos, while the passage of the Bayanihan To Recover as One Act last  Sept. 11 eliminated other permitting requirements that have been causing delays for the past years.

Jacinto stressed that only with more towers and better equipped cell sites will the country be up to par with the rest of the world.

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