Faster permitting lures more tower companies

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    Thirteen firms have expressed interest to build shared towers in the country, according to the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT).

    In a statement, DICT said it has received letters of intent from these13 tower companies mostly foreign-owned.

    “Many have indicated their desire to focus on Visayas, Mindanao and other unserved and underserved areas,” the DICT said.

    Twenty-four independent tower companies (ITCs) currently have agreements with the government for the construction of towers in the country.

    DICT recently launched an online portal for common tower registration to speed up the application procedures of ITCs.

    The DICT sees a steady increase in the number tower companies intending to participate in the pioneering Philippine tower industry with the release of DICT Circular 008 and 011, the joint memorandum circular streamlining the common tower permitting process following President Duterte’s call for local government units and agencies to hasten permits and for telcos to improve services.

    The DICT eyes to add 3,000 towers this year from the current 20,000 towers of Globe Telecoms Inc. and Smart Communications.

    The additional towers will come from Dito Telecommunity’s 1,300 towers which are in various stages of completion, and the 1,930 towers to be constructed by Globe and Smart in 55 provinces and 25 cities, according to the DICT.

    Of the 1,930 towers, 1,502 have secured government approvals to start construction.

    With the pandemic hampering deployment and high capital costs for building common towers on their own, the telcos need the ITCs.

    PLDT and its wireless unit Smart are set to deploy this year and next about 200 cell sites pursuant to its agreements with several ITCs.

    DITO recently reported securing common tower agreements with ITCs in addition to activating a significant number of sites wherein phone calls and connection to the internet are possible, and 1,300 towers in various stages of completion.