By Emmie V. Abadilla
After linking up with tower firms, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) seeks to partner with telcos to fast track the rollout of the government’s common tower initiative.
The DICT is proposing to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and with local telcos to build 50,000 common towers in seven years.
Under the MOU, the DICT and NTC will identify sites where common towers should be built, with a target of 3,000 sites on Year 1 and gradually increasing it to 10,000 sites from Year 5 to Year 7. Telcos will also coordinate with the two parties to identify priority sites.
The DICT targets to finalize the Common Tower policy within a month after the telcos release the list of sites earmarked for tower roll-out.
“Telcos will be the end-user of these common towers so we fully need their cooperation to improve our overall telecommunication landscape,” according to DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr.
The proposed MOU enables telcos to cooperate for an efficient common tower rollout, avoiding tower duplication and connecting more missionary areas through a possible government subsidy.
As for the government’s commitment to the tower companies, the DICT will assist firms with binding contracts with telcos on compliance with legal, regulatory and administrative requirements and permits for building towers.
Builders need to secure over 25 permits to put up just one tower and the paperwork can take 8 months or more.
For this reason, the DICT will facilitate the creation of a inter-agency one-stop shop for expedient processing of licenses, clearances, permits, certifications or authorization, in coordination with other concerned government agencies.
DICT will hold a series of stakeholder round-table discussions in the following weeks to finalize the Common Tower Policy.