The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) issued Department Circular (DC) No. 008, s. 2020, dated 29 May 2020, that provides for the guidelines on Shared Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructure, hereinafter referred to as the “Policy on Shared PTTIs”. The issuance of the said Policy is in compliance with the directives of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, through the Executive Secretary last 28 May 2020, to process the immediate issuance of the Department’s common tower policy in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the Policy on Shared PTTIs, the DICT encourages the growth and development of Independent Tower Companies (ITCs) as a pioneering sector for the birth and development of a robust ICT environment of Shared PTTIs in line with the overall objective of enhancing wireless network coverage and quality of ICT services across the entire country. It seeks to widen the base of tower providers to fast-track the deployment of Shared PTTIs across all regions of the country, especially in the unserved and underserved areas.

Pursuant to Republic Act No. 10844, it is the declared policy of the State to ensure universal access to quality, affordable, reliable, and secure ICT services; to promote the development and widespread use of emerging ICT and to foster and accelerate the convergence of ICT facilities; and to foster an ICT sector policy environment that will promote the broad market-led development of the ICT sectors, a level playing field, partnership between the public and private sectors, strategic alliance with foreign investors and balanced investments between high-growth and economically-depressed areas.

The Policy on Shared PTTIs also details the registration process for ITCs with the DICT. All entities engaged in the business of constructing, managing or operating one or more PTTIs in the Philippines shall register with the DICT, who upon review and consideration, shall issue an ITC Certificate of Registration to qualified applicant-entities, valid for five (5) years and renewable for the same period. Applicant ITCs should have at least the relevant construction experience, registration, license, and financial capacity of, or equivalent to, a contractor falling under Category A of the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board to qualify. Currently, there are twenty-four (24) ITC participants under the previous common tower issuance.

The Policy on Shared PTTIs likewise provides that all PTTIs built or renovated after the issuance of this policy shall provide ample access slots for all telcos and the DICT to co-locate their respective antennas, receivers, transmitters, radio frequency modules, and other radio communications equipment. For the Department, the utilization of shared PTTIs will help accelerate the implementation of the Free Public Internet Access Program pursuant to R.A. No. 10929.

Moreover, the Policy on Shared PTTIs provides that all private sector PTTI sharing agreements should be fair and non-exclusive by offering all telcos the same reasonably equivalent terms, conditions, and charges for co-locating or sharing in the same PTTI. Co-location of PTTIs in the same or nearby sites is also allowed to meet all existing and future demands for connectivity.

Barangays, Local Government Units (LGUs), National Government Agencies, and Homeowners Associations shall follow the mandated maximum time period for the issuance of necessary permits, clearances, and certifications as provided under Section 15 of R.A. 9485, otherwise known as the “Ease of Doing Business Act of 2018”.

The propagation of Shared PTTIs by ITCs shall provide a substantial area of investment and economic activity for jobs generation and employment opportunities in various regions of the country, especially in unserved and underserved areas. The Circular is also expected to encourage increased local participation to address the acute need for Shared PTTIs in each region.

“The finalization of this policy is a significant step in addressing the nation’s connectivity needs that is rendered more immediate by the pandemic,” DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said. “With this development, we aim to help improve, not only the internet condition, but also the state of the country’s socio-economic welfare through ICT in support of the President’s Balik Probinsya, Balik Pag-Asa Program,” he added.

The release of the Circular is in line with this year’s observance of the National ICT Month with the theme “Maximizing ICT for the New Normal.”

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