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RJ’s draft cell tower sharing rules hit

/ 05:30 AM January 03, 2019

The head of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) assailed a proposed set of rules that would pave the way for cell tower sharing as illegal and anticompetitive.

DICT acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr said via his Facebook page on Wednesday that the draft common tower policy of presidential adviser Ramon “RJ” Jacinto would “surely be challenged” in court and that it contained provisions that ran “counter to the principle in our Constitution that prevents monopolies.”

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The development signals a deepening rift between the DICT, which will implement the common tower policy, and the office of Jacinto, which is strongly pushing for its version of the rules.

It also comes as Malacañang prepares to replace Rio as the head of the DICT.

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The views of his successor, Sen. Gregorio Honasan II, on how shared cell tower sharing should be implemented are not known to the public.

In his social media post, Rio questioned the provisions in the draft rules that would ban telco service providers from building their own cell sites. Under the rules, this would be assigned to independent companies, which would cooperate with the telcos in selecting the sites.

Officials from PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom earlier said they would challenge the provisions if these were implemented.

Also questioned was the plan to limit the common tower builders to just two operators in the first four years.

Jacinto earlier said that the provisions would help nurture the common tower companies.

He added that telco providers PLDT and Globe had lost the “moral ascendancy” to continue building sites, citing the slow rollout.

Rio said more players would speed up the rollout of cell sites, the lack of which has been cited as a reason for poor mobile services in certain areas.

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The common tower policy, which was first announced in early 2018, would pave the way for cell tower sharing among the telcos, including the new major player that was chosen in November last year.

To avoid legal complications, the DICT last Dec. 20 signed an agreement with ISOC Infrastructures, which earlier proposed to build 25,000 cell towers in seven years.

Rio said this was the first of several potential deals with the private sector.

He said three other common tower providers, which were not named, were eyeing similar agreements with the DICT.

“DICT recognizes that the country is in dire need of more towers at the soonest to improve our ICT industry. Any delay would not be acceptable,” Rio said on his Facebook post.

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TAGS: cell tower sharing, dict, Eliseo Rio Jr., Ramon “RJ” Jacinto
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