PCC backs streamlining permits for telco infrastructure

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Pro-competition measures in newly signed guidelines for the streamlining of permits for telco infrastructure such as fiber and cables would lead to improved services for consumers, the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) said.

“Cutting red tape and sharing of essential infrastructure lower the barriers to entry and unlock market efficiencies. The pro-competition features of the JMC (joint memorandum circular) will provide relief to millions of subscribers through improved telecommunication services,” PCC chairperson Arsenio Balisacan said yesterday.

PCC is among the agencies that signed the JMC covering the guidelines for the streamlining of permits for the erection of poles, construction of underground fiber ducts, and installation of aerial and underground cables last Monday.

Other agencies that inked the JMC are the Anti-Red Tape Authority, Department of Information and Communications Technology, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, National Telecommunications Commission, Energy Regulatory Commission and National Electrification Administration.

Under the JMC, local government units (LGUs) are directed to require a single excavation permit for projects.

LGUs also need to set up a one-stop shop for the processing of applications.

Processing time of applications would be limited to seven working days.

The JMC likewise prohibits anti-competitive acts by requiring those who own or control access to poles and other physical infrastructure to provide access to other market players on a non-discriminatory basis.

Should access be denied, it should be based on objective, transparent and proportionate criteria such as lack of technical suitability and available space.

For the JMC, the PCC is tasked to prohibit anti-competitive acts, as well as to adopt rules covering procedures in securing access requests for putting up poles and other physical infrastructure for telcos.

“To achieve a truly inclusive connectivity for Filipinos, competition should be present in the different aspects of operations in the telecommunications sector. Through the JMC, the increase of market players at the network level is now complemented by the accelerated rollout of infrastructure on the ground,” Balisacan said.

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