‘Towercos duopoly is disruptive’

January 17, 2019
Ramon Jacinto
Ramon Jacinto

“THE proposal of Presidential economic and information technology adviser Ramon Jacinto for a “two-private company tower builders only” to serve telco’s requirement is “disruptive, if not regressive,” said IT expert and University of the Philippines law professor Roger Quevedo.

“And the towercos duopoly idea will most likely betray President Duterte’s commitment to give the Filipino subscribers a cheaper and faster telco services,” stressed Quevedo.

He explained that the present telco operations by the existing and the incoming providers are on the upswing  in upgrading their facilities in order to address their speed deficiency, “therefore, any change in gov’t policy as what Jacinto’s proposal would want to happen will result in sudden halt of telcos’ ongoing facility improvement projects.”

Professor Quevedo also said Jacinto’s proposal would just be a waste of time and effort because it is not doable “unless the existing franchise of Globe Telecom and PLDT-Smart are amended and modified by Congress.”

“It is not doable because in my view as a practicing lawyer... Jacinto’s proposal which in effect will deprive the existing telcos of their privilege granted under the approved franchises... is illegal,” Quevedo said.

He explained further that Jacinto’s towercos duopoly proposal, which is under consideration for implementation through an Executive Order by the President, cannot supersede a Congressional Enactment which granted the franchise to telcos.

Late last week, Sen. Grace Poe threatened to sue Jacinto “if he won’t listen to the proddings of the lawmakers from both Houses of Congress against limiting cell site builders to just two private companies.”

“Talagang tututulan ko ‘yan at saka hindi ko lang basta-bastang tututulan dahil kung saka-sakaling hindi nila tayo pinakinggan, kasi alam ninyo naman ganyan ‘pag humaharap sa Senado ang gaganda ng sinasabi pero hindi naman nila tinutuloy, kaya mag-pa-file tayo ng kaso kasi kailangan talagang pigilan ang mga ganitong uri ng mga polisiya na sa tingin ko ay makasasama sa ating mga kababayan,” she said.

Poe reiterated her opposition to the common tower policy, saying it is counterproductive to the government’s aim of improving telecommunications infrastructure in the country.

House Assistant Majority Leader and Rep. Johnny Pimentel of the 2nd district of Surigao Del Sur also asked Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Gringo Honasan to junk the planned towercos duopoly.

He reminded Honasan that limiting the construction of cell towers violates the congressional franchise of Globe and Smart.

He said that the two chambers of Congress must first amend telcos’ franchise to prevent them from building their own cell towers.