The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has reportedly issued new guidelines for the sharing of cell towers in the Philippines, as the country’s telecoms market enters a new era. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports that long-gestating rules on colocation and the sharing of passive telecommunications tower infrastructure are designed to help restructure a mobile market in which individual companies have struggled to deploy enough cell sites to meet pent-up demand. The DICT’s new guidelines should help the government meet its goal of improving service quality by encouraging the rollout of thousands of new towers across the country – vast tracts of which remain underserved or unserved.
The paper claims to have seen an outline of the new rules – issued on 29 May and signed by Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan II – which allow eligible towercos to build cell sites to be leased back to the operators at the ‘same or reasonably equivalent terms, conditions, fees and charges’. Further, telecoms operators such as PLDT Inc., Globe Telecom and newcomer DITO Telecommunity should find it easier to secure permission to construct new towers, with the report noting that in respect of passive telecommunications tower infrastructure, the guidelines call on telcos to ‘provide ample space for sharing with other telcos’. The new rules go on to state that all new installations of equipment such as transmitters and radio systems must also be located in shared towers, although the DICT said it would provide exceptions that show clear ‘meritorious grounds’.
Independent tower companies must be registered with the DICT, and have demonstrated relevant construction expertise and financial capacity equivalent to what are termed ‘category A’ contractors. Towercos that have already signed prior agreements with the DICT will be considered ‘registered’ once they have submitted necessary ‘documentary requirements’ such as ‘business permits and certification that it is not a related party to a mobile network operator’.
The Philippines’ new tower sharing measures are ostensibly designed to aid the rollout of the country’s third mobile player, DITO Telecommunity, with the DICT having previously stated that the country needs a further 50,000 towers – on top of the 18,000 or so already installed by incumbents PLDT and Globe.