THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) signed on Thursday a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ISOC Infrastructures, Inc. and ISOC Asia Telecom Towers, Inc., which plans to build towers for the common use of telecommunications companies.
The MoU signed by DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. and ISOC President Jesus G. Chua, Jr. allows the company to tap the DICT’s assistance in gaining regulatory approval once it has tower orders from the various telcos.
“The Parties hereby agree that the cooperation between ISOC and the DICT shall be conditioned upon the former securing an agreement with any telecommunications operator in the country which clearly states that such telco operator would avail of the services or make use of the common tower/s of ISOC through lease or otherwise,” it said.
In July, ISOC Infrastructure submitted a P100-billion proposal to the DICT to build 25,000 cellular towers over a seven-year period. The company is a subsidiary of ISOC Holdings, Inc., which is chaired by Megawide cofounder Michael C. Cosiquien.
The MoU signed yesterday will be effective for 12 months. But it specified the need for a separate memorandum of agreement between the government and the private sector which will guide the two on duties and responsibilities for the project.
“The MoU is a commitment for both parties to assist in the common tower scheme… ISOC commits to work with the telco companies in the roll-out of their improvement and expansion plans, especially for those areas that are in immediate need of access and connectivity,” the company said in a statement.
The government is currently seeking to implement a telco infrastructure sharing policy that will require service providers such as PLDT, Inc. and Globe Telecom, Inc. to use cellular towers that may be used by more than one company.
Mr. Rio has said that a common tower policy will reduce the cost of infrastructure roll-out, thereby reducing the cost passed on to consumers.
The draft common tower policy presented in September limits the number of registered tower companies to two, but this restriction was questioned by potential tower builders, telco operators and the Philippine Competition Commission.
The DICT is currently revising a draft policy in accordance with stakeholder comment.
In a text message, Mr. Rio said the agreement does not reflect any features of the upcoming common tower policy, but will allow prospective common tower providers (CTPs) “to immediately start operating based on their capability to get contracts from telcos.” .
“The MoU simply states that once a CTP gets a contract or any commercial arrangement with telcos, DICT will be responsible in facilitating all government permits, right of way, etc, for the installation of towers which could be leased to all telcos. All interested CTPs can send their proposals (5 already did) to DICT, and when found capable, a similar MoU can be signed between DICT and the CTP. The results of these MoUs will also give important inputs in coming up with a final Common Tower Policy. The MoU does not impose any commitment, but to start the building of common towers, and be indicators how the telcos will react to common towers. — Denise A. Valdez