The Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has overhauled the country’s rules on tower sharing in a bid to improve coverage.
With new player DITO Telecommunity entering the market, the longstanding duopoly of Globe Telecom and Smart Communications is coming to a close, and the new tower sharing rules seemingly intend to boost DITO’s deployment.
The Philippines has been reevaluating its rules on colocation and passive infrastructure sharing for some time. Its current framework has resulted in operators failing to build out enough cell sites to meet escalating demand, with large swathes of the country receiving little or no coverage.
The DICT’s new recommendations were issued on 29th May, and reportedly have been seen by The Philippine Daily Inquirer. The newspaper notes that they permit tower firms to build cell sites and lease them back to operators for the “same or reasonably equivalent terms, conditions, fees and charges.”
The new rules aim to simplify the permit process for constructing new towers, as well as encouraging operators to share infrastructure. Newly deployed equipment such as radio systems and transmitters must be housed in shared towers unless the operator can demonstrate “meritorious grounds” for an exception to be made.
Additionally, the DICT will verify the credentials of independent tower firms by requiring them to register. This process will involve providing evidence of relevant construction work and submitting “business permits and certification that it is not a related party to a mobile network operator’.”
Between Globe and Smart, there are around 18,000 telecom towers installed across the Philippines. The DICT estimates that to achieve optimal coverage, the country requires around 50,000 more to be built, and the new guidelines evidently seek to encourage this.