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DICT wants permit process for cell towers cut

/ 04:03 AM June 30, 2020

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) wants to drastically reduce government permits for new cell sites to speed up the construction of telco towers and improve connectivity across the country.

In a statement on Monday, DICT Assistant Secretary Emmanuel Caintic said they planned to remove “redundant or duplicitous permitting” and lessen the average number of processing days. He said this would reduce requirements by more than 50 percent.

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Poor mobile signal and internet connectivity had been linked to the lack of cell sites in the country, leading to congested networks. It takes up to eight months and dozens of permits to build a single cell tower, telco officials had said.

The DICT is working with the Anti-Red Tape Authority and other government agencies in ensuring streamlined permitting requirements and procedures. This will also bolster the DICT’s common tower program, which will encourage the construction of thousands of new cell sites.

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The DICT recently issued the guidelines for tower sharing. Among others, the rules allow independent tower companies to build their own sites and lease them to telco operators such as PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom. In the past, only telco companies were allowed to build cell sites.

“With streamlined procedures, we expect to speed up the rollout of common towers, which will help us achieve our overall objective of enhancing wireless network coverage and the quality of ICT services across the entire country,” Information and Communications Secretary Gregorio Honasan II said in the same statement.

PLDT and Globe control about 18,000 cell sites today. But the DICT said the country needed at least another 50,000 towers to improve mobile connectivity and to reach unserved and underserved areas.

Globe said on Monday it would ramp up the construction of new sites in the third quarter of 2020.

The major cell site builds will start in July covering several areas in Metro Manila, North and South Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, Globe said. INQ

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