‘Towercos duopoly’

October 15, 2018
Eliseo M. Rio Jr.

Nothing final, says DICT as it calms down RJ Jacinto’s critics.

DEPARTMENT of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) Secretary Eliseo Rio said nothing is final yet with regard to the number of companies that could be authorized to build cellular site towers in the country.

Rio made the statement after industry stakeholders expressed alarm over a proposal to limit to two the number of independent or private companies that would be allowed to build cellular site towers.

In a public consultation last week, the DICT, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and Presidential Adviser for ICT Ramon Jacinto received some flak in their presentation of the government’s draft policies, rules and regulations on the program.

Frontier Tower Associates Chief Executive Patrick Tangley expressed dismay that the proposed two tower company policy “does not make sense” adding that the likelihood of the biggest contributors to building towers come from those “with no licenses at all.”

“To limit it to only two companies will result in failure of agreements,” said Tangley.

Meanwhile, ATC Asia Pacific Ltd. Vice President Asia Manish Kasliwal said that an open accreditation process would allow market forces to make their own decisions as contender thereby establishing a “cleaner and more sanitized” modus operandi.

“We need more companies if you want an efficient industry,” he said.

Globe Telecom Senior Vice President Froilan Castelo insisted that government should be part of the tower company to help eliminate barriers such as tedious permitting process, unreasonable taxation and difficult right-of-way (ROW) obstructions.

Globe said it welcomes a third telco player and that it will act in consonance with the program of sharing facilities with other telcos.

However, Castelo pointed out that the telcos’ congressional franchises authorize them to construct their own infrastructure and should continue to do so.

“Limiting and building of towers to two-player independent tower companies unfairly discriminates against the other models and is contrary to best practices,” said Castelo.

He noted the Philippines needs 50,000 cellular towers to serve 113 million subscribers. The country has about 16,000 cellular sites.