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DICT issues rules on common tower sharing

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) had issued the rules on the accelerated roll-out of common towers in the Philippines.

According to a recent press release, these rules will guarantee more access to cost-efficient ICT infrastructure.

What are the rules for?

Moreover, the rules will pave the way for the building or converting of at least 2,500 common towers in identified DICT-owned properties; in the properties of government agencies; and hard to access areas identified by the telecommunications companies (telecoms).

DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr shared that this is the starting point of a more comprehensive policy for their initiative on passive infrastructure sharing.

Furthermore, this will help tower firms to acquaint themselves in the telco industry.

The rules on common tower sharing are anchored on encouraging investment as well as building more towers in the unserved and underserved areas.

This will also avoid inefficient duplication of network resources, redundancy of permits and high cost of operations.

Currently, 22 tower firms have already 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 telecoms.

Requirements

As reported, before securing an agreement with the Department, they are required to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

In addition, the firm itself or a member of its consortium must have at least five years of technical expertise in the said field, or have operated a minimum of 1,000 towers either in the local or foreign market.

The rules also require that the firms be independent or not related to any mobile network operator (MNO) in order “to promote non-discriminatory access and uniformity and transparency in tower leasing arrangements.”

Add to that the requirement of securing a business transaction to incumbent telco carriers.

Aside from the initial 2,500 sites, the Department also urged MNOs to identify more areas where they want ITCs to establish towers.

Failure to comply

The rules also dictate that independent tower companies (ITCs) are allowed to establish cell sites without binding contract with an MNO in a DICT or government-owned properties, with the condition that they will secure commercial agreements with any telco within six months from completion of the common tower.

If it failed to meet the condition, it must disassemble the tower or sell it to another ITC, which holds a contract with an MNO.

If an MNO voluntarily shares its existing towers, particularly all passive telco infrastructures, the government will allow the company to build passive infrastructure in government properties.

The Department has vowed to extend support in terms of securing necessary government permits to further ramp up this initiative.

The DICT, however, warned that if ITCs fail to comply with the rules and meet their rollout plans, the agency would cancel the MOU.

The rules will be effective 15 days from its publications

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