Local government units (LGUs) have approved a total of 1,502 applications for building cell towers out of 1,930 pending in 55 provinces and 25 cities this year.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año confirmed this last week and vowed to ensure the approval of the remaining 428.
For this reason, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) now expects a faster rollout of telecommunications towers.
“This is a welcome development in our mission to improve Internet connectivity and access in our country,” says DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II.
“If this continues, the Filipino people can expect a higher rate of ICT infrastructure rollout in the coming weeks and months,” he added.
Last month, the DICT and various agencies also signed a Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) streamlining requirements for common towers or Shared Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructures (PTTIs), reducing processing time from more than 200 days to 16 days.
Under the JMC, agencies and LGUs are required to process, approve and issue permits within seven working days.
Permits and clearances not approved within the prescribed periods will be deemed automatically approved under the law.
The country needs an additional 50,000 towers for its connectivity requirements.
In addition to its existing agreements with the twenty-four tower companies, the DICT has received letters of intent from thirteen other tower companies.
Around seventy per cent of these tower companies are foreign-owned.
Majority of the companies signified intent to build towers in Visayas, Mindanao, and other unserved and underserved areas.
Globe and Smart already have about 20,000 towers combined.
PLDT Inc. and Smart Communications are set to initially deploy about 200 cell sites pursuant to its agreements with several independent tower companies.
With DITO’s 1,300 towers in various stages of completion, and the DILG’s approval of 1,502 applications for tower construction, this could add up to 23,230 towers in 2020 between the 3 telcos.
From the 17,000 towers reported in February 2019 to the 23,230 towers by 2020, this translates to an increase of more than 6,000 towers.