The department of information and communications technology (DICT) in the Philippines has issued rules to accelerate the roll-out of common towers in the country.
The new guidelines are designed to ensure the provision of "strategic, reliable, and cost-efficient" ICT infrastructure, while ensuring better coverage to areas not adequately served by the private sector.
Collectively, at least 2,500 common towers are expected to be converted or built in identified DICT-owned properties, as well as in other government agencies’ properties and hard-to-access areas identified by telcos.
"This is the starting point of more comprehensive policy for our initiative on passive infrastructure sharing,” said Eliseo M. Rio Jr, acting secretary of DICT. “This will help tower firms to acquaint themselves in our telco industry.”
The rules are a direct result of a national task force to end conflict local communist armed conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which met in April, whereby the president approved the building of common towers in government owned properties in the interest of improved ICT services nationwide.
This was also designed to promote peace and order, providing access to telecommunications services with a view to end poverty, which is seen as the root cause of conflict in the Philippines.
As such, the government plans on not just building towers in city centres but also in remote, unserved and underserved areas, which the rules are targeted towards. This will also avoid inefficient duplication of network resources, redundancy of permits and high cost of operations.
There are currently 22 tower firms that signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the department for the initiative.
These companies can conduct surveys and studies on the identified sites to initiate commercial agreements with the telcos.
The rules tie in with the government's plan to roll-out next-generation broadband services, which recently saw Singapore-based HyalRoute Group awarded a contract, valued at US$1-2 billion, through its subsidiary Philippine Fibre Optic Cable Network to strengthen network connectivity in the country.
The HyalRoute Group subsidiary will work with the government over a 10 year period to lay the foundations for the DICT’s planned free public Wi-Fi network aimed at connecting the unserved and underserved areas of the country.