President Rodrigo Duterte (left) with DICT Secretary Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II. (Photo courtesy of PCOO)
MANILA – The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) urged telecommunication companies (telco) to support the common tower initiative to accelerate the improvement of the country’s internet and telecommunications services.
In a statement on Wednesday, DICT Secretary Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II supported President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for the immediate improvement in the services of telcos, noting that common towers will help move the country towards “better internet quality and more extensive telecommunications service coverage”.
“Common towers will enable them to service the wider population, as well as deepen and enhance wireless network coverage and quality of ICT (information and communications technology) services that will contribute to a healthy, competitive ICT environment that will benefit the Filipino people,” Honasan said.
The common tower initiative, according to the DICT, is expected to stimulate the growth of independent tower companies, widening the base of common or shared towers in the country.
It said common towers will help cut back on expenses when compared to the costs of construction and maintenance of private towers.
Also, it said a joint memorandum circular (JMC) recently signed by several national government agencies has significantly removed ‘red tape’ in the construction of common towers—reducing the time it takes to process requirements for towers from an average of 200 days to 16 days.
“The JMC significantly removes red tape by streamlining the procedures and requirements for permits, licenses, clearances, certificates, and other requirements in the construction of Shared Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructures (PTTI) or common towers,” the DICT said.
The JMC was signed on July 23 between the DICT, Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Department of Health (DOH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Honasan commended telcos with existing commitments with independent tower companies for their support of shared towers.
“We encourage telcos to take full advantage of the benefits of our common tower initiative, and engage with the ITC sector more actively, especially when it comes to providing connectivity to the unserved and underserved areas in the country,” Honasan said.
He added that their support for common towers would be in line with the “spirit of Bayanihan, which President Rodrigo Duterte clearly articulated in his SONA (State-of-the-Nation Address)”.
In his fifth SONA on Monday, Duterte threatened the country’s two operating telcos to improve their services or face expropriation—the seizure of assets by the government for public use.
He also called on telcos, other concerned companies, and government agencies to implement measures to boost internet connectivity, promote electronic governance, utilize ICT for education, and toughen up the country’s cybersecurity. (PNA)