7 August 2019 – ICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II is advocating for a longstanding common tower policy as the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) starts to pool comments and position papers from telecommunication and tower companies.
In a stakeholders’ meeting held on Wednesday, Secretary Honasan said the to-be crafted common tower policy must be sustainable in order to achieve the government’s target of building 50,000 telecommunication towers for the improvement of country’s connectivity.
“Kailangang masimulan ito [common tower policy] para kahit na sino ang presidente, mayroon tayong continuity, predictability,” Honasan said.
“‘Yun naman ang hinihingi ng foreign investors dahil naglalagay sila ng bilyon bilyon, tapos walang kasiguraduhan, pag bagong president, bago na naman. Gusto natin kahit sinong nakaupo, tuloy tuloy, pang matagalan,” he added.
The Philippines has only approximately 16,300 towers serving around 130 million combined subscribers of the existing telcos, resulting to the country having one of the lowest tower density in Asia.
To address this, the DICT is pushing for the cooperation of tower firms, telcos, as well as backhaul providers in the policymaking of the said matter.
Undersecretary for Operations Eliseo M. Rio Jr. presented in the meeting the proposed provisions of the common tower policy, including requiring telcos to come up with an annual roll-out plan that can be submitted to tower firms for the possibility of their proposals.
The telcos, including new major player Dito Telecommunity, and majority of the 24 tower firms that signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the DICT expressed their support for the creation of such policy and vowed to submit their respective position papers.
As the Department looks to issue the policy as soon as possible, Honasan reminded the stakeholders of the end goal of accelerating common tower build-up.
“Common tower policy will be driven by the overriding objective. The tower is not operating in a vacuum so the tower policy is an enabler, that’s the means and what’s the end –connectivity. Our goal is to connect the government to other governments, domestic and global; government to business, encourage foreign investments; and government to citizens and everybody to each other,” Honasan said.