Slower tower construction may delay Dito rollout

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    DITO Telecommunity Corporation may need to delay anew its commercial operations due to complicated cell tower permitting processes.

    The rollout, initially set in September 2019, was earlier moved to July 2020 in order to “put the network in place,” according to Dito Chief Administrative Officer Adel Tamano.

    Lawmakers have started to question Dito’s capability of fulfilling its promise to establish 2,500 cell sites by July 2020. ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro recently urged Congress to summon DICT and DITO officials to investigate the matter.

    Even Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Gregorio Honasan is concerned about the capability of Dito, formerly Mislatel Consortium, to complete its rollout program before July 2020.

    “DICT was concerned about the capability of Dito to fulfill its commitments as July is six months away,” he said.

    The 2,500 cell sites would cover 37 percent of the whole Philippines with a minimum Internet speed of 27 Mbps.

    Industry providers have long emphasized the difficulty in building telco infrastructure, citing challenges such as multiple LGU permits for just one cell site that can take eight months to process.

    LGU permits, homeowners associations, exclusive subdivisions, and building administrators impose certain guidelines and requirements based on Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) Resolution No. R-626 issued in 1998. The lengthy process includes everything from negotiations and documentation of prospective cell site location to securing structural permits and approvals.

    This complicated permit applications can cause further delay in the construction of Dito’s 2,500 cell sites.

    To address the issue of delaying permits, The Philippines’ Anti-Red Tape Authority and DICT collaborated on the nationwide automation of government services with the goal of shortening the processing time for business permits.

    The DICT also proposed the concept of tower sharing to improve tower density. With more than one telco sharing in a single tower, it follows that the number of subscribers being served by each telco increases.

    The DICT already started to work on a new common tower policy in 2018 but the final draft of policy has been delayed anew to February this year.

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