DICT may stop signing MoUs with tower providers

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THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said it may temporarily stop signing new deals with common tower providers after it inked the 15th memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Thursday.

DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said they want to evaluate the industry’s capacity to accommodate the tower firms before allowing more entrants.

“We can stop for the meantime here, since I think we already got the best of the best,” he said after a signing ceremony at the DICT office in Quezon City.

“There were still three (companies) who have shown interest (to sign MoUs), but maybe we’ll hold it, because 15 may be too much to handle,” Mr. Rio added.

Since December, the DICT has been signing MoUs with interested tower providers every week as it works to craft a common tower policy that will regulate the shared telco infrastructure initiative of the government. The draft policy is expected to be released on the second quarter.

Under the MoUs, the DICT commits to assist the tower providers in getting regulatory permits when they secure orders for cell sites from the network operators.

On Thursday, the DICT signed MoUs with South Korea’s Shinheung Telecom Co. Ltd., which is working with KT Corp.; and Filipino company ALT Global Solutions, Inc., which is working with India’s Ganges Internationale Pvd. Ltd.

“We still don’t know how many telcos the industry can accommodate. If you put in so many, it will be like a ‘lechon manok’ style of business, and we don’t like that. Very important for us is to have the market forces trim down or add up the 15, whatever is necessary,” Mr. Rio said.

The 15 tower firms are comprised of five local companies: ISOC Infrastructures, Inc.; Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc.; MGS Construction, Inc.; J.S. Cruz Construction and Development, Inc.; and ALT Global; and 10 foreign firms: ISON ECP Tower Pte. Ltd.; IHS Holding Ltd. (IHS Towers); edotco Group Sdn Bhd; China Energy Equipment Co. Ltd.; RT Telecom Sdn Bhd.; Frontier Tower Associates Management Pte. Ltd.; the consortium of Global Networks, Inc. (GNI) and JTower, Inc.; American Tower Corp. (ATC); Desarrollos Terrestres (DT Towers); and Shinheung Telecom.

Smart Communications, Inc.; Globe Telecom, Inc. and incoming third telco Mislatel Consortium have all expressed support for the common tower initiative of the government. — Denise A. Valdez