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The Philippines Unveils Telecom Tower Monitoring Solution

The Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) introduced the “Digital Infrastructure Monitoring System, a monitoring mechanism for tower construction designed to improve permit processing time and accelerate the deployment of connectivity infrastructure in the country.

“Through the Monitoring System, we endeavour to “future-proof” our Common Tower Initiative by ensuring that our streamlining efforts in the previous years will not go to waste and continue to contribute to building a more far-reaching and robust ICT infrastructure in the country, regardless of changes in national leadership. The case is when a new administration sits in, some projects of the previous admin are side-lined to give way to the projects of the current admin — we don’t want that to happen,” the DICT secretary said.

We hope to ease the regulatory burdens that impede the construction of necessary telecommunications infrastructure. We also hope to promote transparency and accountability — two important factors in ascertaining the speedy approval and issuance of tower permits.

– DICT Secretary

The Digital Infrastructure Monitoring System is intended to supplement the government’s efforts in tackling slow Internet speeds and a lack of Internet presence in isolated and disadvantaged areas due to a lack of towers, fibre backhaul, and fibre networks. The DICT also mentioned that it hopes to encourage more investments by creating a favourable and enabling policy environment. This would allow the government to accelerate the delivery of nationwide broadband access services.

“We noticed that even with the issuance of the Joint Memorandum Circular no. 01, s. 2021 on the guidelines for the issuance of the permit, licences, and certificates for the construction of Shared Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructure (PTTIs), there is a danger that without a transparency system, the regressive attitudes would still continue. Thus, to promote transparency and help our private sector accelerate the digital infrastructure build-up, the DICT has developed this monitoring system,” DICT undersecretary stated.

The Monitoring System will support applications submitted by common tower firms and telcos for the construction or installation of common towers, Fibre Optic Cables (FOCs), and In-building Solutions Installation (IBS).

According to the DICT, telcos will be able to self-report their applications through the system, including the date and time the requirements were submitted to the relevant local government unit (LGU) or National Government Agency (NGA). The system then records and conveys this information to the appropriate LGU or agency, where it can monitor pending applications and tag those that are delayed.

This would also allow oversight agencies to have access to the overall status of pending and completed applications, enabling them to monitor the compliance of the LGUs or offices and to ensure their cooperation with the prescribed processing times, the DICT said.

OpenGov Asia reported that the new Department Order No. 29, also known as the “DPWH Policy on Telecommunications and Internet Infrastructure Pursuant to Republic Act (RA) No. 11494,” relaxes previous right-of-way prohibitions, particularly on the construction of posts, by allowing excavations and restoration work for ICT infrastructure projects along with allowable right-of-way limits of national roads and highways. With the removal of such a major bottleneck, the company anticipates that site inspection and approval will be completed in a matter of days, rather than several weeks or even months in the past.

The order issued by the DPWH is in accordance with Bayanihan Acts 1 and 2, which streamline the requirements for obtaining permits from local government units and national government agencies for the installation of new cell towers.

“As the Monitoring System provides transparency, the private sector, and the public can make agencies and LGUs accountable in case they fail to comply with the common tower policy, the issuances on streamlined processing of permits, and most especially Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018,” DICT undersecretary asserted.

The system serves as a safety net for the Philippine government, ensuring the continuity of the national ICT development agenda. The company hopes that by encouraging more telcos to construct more infrastructure, the country’s Internet speed and connectivity will improve in the long run.

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