DPWH allows telcos to use ROW for 3 years

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) now allows telcos to occupy a portion of the government's Right of Way (ROW) to hasten rollouts and network infra maintenance in the next three years.

PLDT Inc. and Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) Tuesday (April 6) welcomed DPWH's newly issued Department Order No. 29 (DO 29) enabling Information Communications Tecnology (ICT) Service providers to "construct and undertake excavations and/or restoration work for ICT Infrastructure Projects within the allowable ROW limits of the national roads".

The problem is, DO 29 will cease in 2024.

Hence, the PLDT and Smart Regulatory Group will be "relentless in securing government issuances to provide a more permanent solution to this Right of Way issue," according to Atty Aileen Regio, First Vice President and Head of PLDT’s Regulatory and Strategic Affairs.

In the meantime, DO 29 will speed up the rollout and maintenance of PLDT's fiber infrastructure as well as Smart's cell sites.

The DO amends three previous orders and supports the objectives of Bayanihan 2.

“PLDT and Smart are committed to working with the government in ensuring continuous service amid the pandemic," says Alfredo S. Panlilio, Smart Communications President and CEO and PLDT Chief Revenue Officer.

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) paved the way for the issuance of DO 29, noted Atty Regio.

Since ARTA's issued the Joint Memorandum Circular fast-tracking the issuance of permits last year, PLDT and Smart secured some 13,000 fixed and wireless permits.

As of end 2020, Smart has rolled out more than 10,000 sites and over 59,000 base stations, as its mobile networks cover 96 percent of the population from Batanes to Sulu.

Meanwhile, PLDT has expanded its fiber footprint to over 429,000 kilometers--the most extensive in the country.