5K cell towers to be built annually

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    The government seeks to build 5,000 towers annually for the next three years to improve the internet services and digital connectivity in the country, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said yesterday.

    According to Nograles, the additional cell site towers to be erected form part of the Connect, Harness, Innovate, Protect (CHIP) framework that the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) adopted.

    He said DICT presented the CHIP framework, which aims to determine the readiness and eventually improve the digital connectivity and series in the country, during the Cabinet meeting Monday night.

    He added the government noted several challenges to be addressed to improve the internet service and connectivity in the country, such as the current one tower is to 4,000 households ratio; minimal use of poles or microtowers and in-building solutions; low number of towers, backhaul and fiber network in the country; and the inadequate investment in connectivity especially in far flung areas.

    Nograles said efforts are already underway to ensure improved access to the internet and digital connectivity.

    “These include easing regulatory burdens through progressive regulations and policies, such as the entry of a third telco and issuance of a JMC (joint memorandum circular) on tower permits, and initiatives to spur growth and expansion through catalytic programs and projects. Following the CHIP framework and ongoing DICT efforts, the government expects an average of 5,000 towers per year to be built over the next three years,” he said.

    Nograles added the government is also fast-tracking programs and projects, such as the National Broadband Program (NBP), Free WIFI for all programs and the National Government Data Center, to further improve digital services in the country.

    He said President Duterte and the Cabinet also approved the DICT proposals to: issue a JMC for fiber, common poles and in-building solutions for national compliance; provide provisional approval for right of way for DICT infrastructure projects, specifically NBP Phase 1 and Luzon Bypass Infrastructure; and allow telcos to continue work during emergencies.

    According to Nograles, also approved are DICT’s proposals to issue a memorandum circular to effect separate health protocols for telco manpower; consider power capacity requirements of telcos and/or ICT infrastructure; and issue a regulation for a fixed table of regulatory fees imposed by local government units (LGU) on ICT infrastructure/issue regulations on a standard fee for telcos to install and repair at the barangay level.

    LGUs are also encouraged to fast-track the issuance of Certificate of Final Electrical Inspection, and to streamline requirements and procedures for shorter turnaround time in processing permits.

    “The ultimate objective is to connect the Filipino people, and to provide the means for our kababayan to not just survive, but thrive in the digital age,” Nograles said. (J. Montemayor)