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DICT spearheads ICT infrastructure improvement in the Philippines

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), in partnership with other government agencies, spearheads collaborative efforts to improve the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure in the Philippines.

The urgency to have improved ICT infrastructure has emerged as one of the major concerns during the health crisis with the huge demand for internet connectivity for businesses, industries, students, workers, and the larger public.

As such, the department is focused on building faster and reliable telecommunications towers through easing tower permit requirements.

Earlier in July 2020, the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), together with other concerned agencies, released a joint memorandum that aimed to streamline the flow of applications for the requirements, permits, licenses, clearances, certificates and other necessary documents for Independent Tower Companies (ITCs) and telecommunication companies to build Shared Telecommunications Tower Infrastructure (PTTI).

ARTA is the arm of the government that monitors and ensures compliance with the national policy on anti-red tape and ease of doing business in the country,

The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), a signatory to the joint memorandum, stated that it has updated the guidelines for permit and documentary requirement application for ICT infrastructure projects, including permits to build towers just last month.

The “Revised Locational Guidelines for Based Stations and Other Infrastructure for Cellular Mobile Telephone Service, Paging Service, Trunking Service, Wireless Local Loop Service, and other Wireless Communications Service” is the product of the above-mentioned legal process.

The guidelines make provisions for telecommunication companies and ITCs to streamline consent of the homeowners’ associations, building owners and concerned tenants’ consent in their application permits, allowing for an expedited process in line with the aims of the memorandum. With this, the process for an application for ICT facilities to be built on privately-owned land within residential subdivisions would now be easier.

While other documentary requirements still remain, the legislative branch has taken notice of the pressing need for enhanced ICT infrastructure and is amenable to all viable possibilities.

The senate is also open to the option of suspending tower permit requirements for telecommunication industries altogether for three (3) consecutive years, following the planned supplementary pandemic measure of the government-mandated Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or “Bayanihan 2”. The provision aims to suspend select tower permits, except building permits.

To further ease the process, facilitate digital applications and registrations of interested ITCs, the department is launching an online portal, https://commontower.gov.ph. To date, thirteen tower companies have shown their interest in registering as an ITC. This is an encouraging development to bolster the department’s existing agreements with twenty-four tower companies (mostly foreign-owned).

DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II was confident of fast-tracking the building of telecommunication towers, in line with President Duterte’s directives, to fully address citizens’ need for better internet connectivity.

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