No to common tower policy

September 30, 2018
Danilo Suarez

Solon opposes DICT’s plan.

HOUSE Minority leader Danilo Suarez strongly opposed the proposed policy being pushed by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) taking away from local telecom companies the responsibility to install and operate their own cell sites. 

“I think it’s not fair,” stressed the Quezon Province representative when asked his reaction to the so-called “common tower policy” DICT wanted to implement.

According to Suarez, it would be better to consider instead using the “backbone” of TransCo (National Transmission Corporation) to spare the government from spending more.

Suarez said he’s against the DICT plan to give to an “independent company” the right to build and operate the mobile phone and telecommunication towers, which is what Presidential Adviser on Economic Affairs and Information Technology Communications Ramon Jacinto has been pushing for.

“I don’t care (kung sino pa ang nagpu-push), but that’s not fair. Alam mo, pagkakaperahan lang ‘yan, hindi pupuwede ‘yan,” the Quezon province lawmaker pointed out.

Earlier, a heated debate already ensued between Jacinto and Globe Telecom General Counsel and Senior Vice President Froilan Castelo during the initial public consultation made by DICT regarding its proposal last week.

Castelo raised his skepticism about how the process of building cell sites would speed up if this would be given to an independent tower provider.

Citing the experience of Globe, Castelo said it took the company eight months waiting for the approval of its permit, particularly within the local government units just to be able to build its tower.  

“It is the bureaucracy that really kills us,” he said, adding that’s the reason why Globe has proposed to have a tower company subsidiary, wherein their partner will be the government to address the problem in the delay of securing a permit.

Aside from this, Globe emphasized that they will only violate their congressional franchise if they won’t have their own cell site as it was stipulated there that it’s the responsibility of the telco to install and operate its tower.

“Preventing us from doing that will be considered as impairment of contract and in violation of the Philippine constitution,” Castelo stressed.

Meanwhile, it was found out that under the common tower policy, the DICT aims to have an additional 50,000 cell sites and in the first four years of its implementation, only two independent companies will be allowed to be tower providers.

But it was opposed  by industry giant American Tower Corp., represented in the public consultation by Manish Kasliwal, its chief business officer in Asia; Telenor of Norway, and even by advocacy group Better Broadband Alliance lead convenor Mary Grace Mirandillo-Santos.

They maintained that the government should not limit the number of companies that wish to enter independent tower provider sector in the country.