Eight firms have obtained a license to operate as an independent tower company (ITC) in the country, according to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
Adrian Echaus, DICT spokesperson, told Malaya Business Insight out of 23 provisional ITCs, eight ITCs have secured a certificate of registration valid for five years.
The firms are power distributor Manila Electric Co. subsidiary Meralco Industrial Engineering Services Corp., Communication and Renewable Energy Infrastructure (CREI) Phils.
Inc., Desarrollos Terrestres Inc., LBS Technologies Asia Pacific Corp., Transcend Towers Infrastructure (Philippines) Inc., Ison Tower Ltd. Inc., ISOC Edotco Towers Inc. and CEEC Tower Inc.
DICT is still reviewing the application of other ITCs and there are more firms that intend to apply, according to Echaus.
Last September, DICT issued provisional certificates to 23 ITCs with a prior memorandum of understanding or agreement signed with the agency.
The 23 ITCs were given until Dec. 31, 2020, to complete documentary requirements and pay the necessary processing fees for full registration as an ITC.
DICT had said if the ITC fails to complete the registration during the period, its provisional authority may be forfeited.
Meanwhile, those that have inked partnerships with the telecom firms but have yet to secure the five-year permit include Aboitiz InfraCapita Inc., Alt-Global-Solutions Inc., Frontier Tower Associates Philippines Inc. and Phil-Tower Consortium Inc.
DICT has fast-tracked the construction of shared towers in the country with the joint memorandum circular issued last August that reduced to less than a month the processing time of securing permits to build shared towers.
With this, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said the government issued a total of 4,544 tower construction permits from July to November last year, a significant improvement compared to the previous year.
As of November 2020, NTC data showed the Philippines had 22,405 towers, of which new telecom player DITO Telecommunity built 2,066, Ayala-led Globe
Telecom Inc. with 10,270 towers and PLDT Inc. wireless unit Smart Communications Inc., 10,069 towers.
Globe and Smart are on track to build more new cell sites to further improve their mobile and broadband services this year.
Smart said it will roll out 2,000 new cell sites to reach even the unserved and underserved areas in the country.
Globe said it will also build 2,000 new cell sites in more cities and municipalities to address the growing demand for connectivity this year.
DICT aims to increase the number of towers in the country from 18,000 to 50,000 in the next five to 10 years.