THE Department of Information and Communications Technology is set to issue “provisional approval for the right of way for the government’s ICT infrastructure projects. — MARIO CARUSO, UNSPLASH

THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has set a target of 5,000 new cellular towers a year over the next three years, as part of a broader effort to improve connectivity, a Palace official said.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles added that the DICT will soon announce the approval of right of way for two major connectivity projects, a key preparatory milestone that brings the projects closer to construction.

Mr. Nograles was detailing the DICT’s overall strategy for improving connectivity, the so-called CHIP (Connect, Harness, Innovate, Protect) framework.

The DICT is set to issue “provisional approval for the right of way for the government’s ICT infrastructure projects, specifically the National Broadband Program phase one and Luzon Bypass Infrastructure,” he said.

Mr. Nograles said the DICT will also issue a joint memorandum circular soon “for fiber, common poles, and in-building solutions for national compliance,” while also setting rules allowing telecommunications firms to work on their projects safely during the pandemic.

“The ultimate objective is to connect the Filipino people, and to provide the means for our kababayan to not just survive, but thrive in the digital age,” he said at a televised briefing.

One component of the new approach is the adoption of a fixed table of fees to be collected by local government units on ICT infrastructure projects and a “standard fee structure for telco firms to install and repair at the barangay level.”

With the new strategy, “the government expects an average of 5,000 towers per year to be built over the next three years,” Mr. Nograles said.

“Efforts are actually underway to ensure improved access to the internet. These include easing regulatory burdens through progressive regulations and policies, such as the entry of a third telco and issuance of a JMC (joint memorandum circular) on tower permits, and initiatives to spur growth and expansion through catalytic programs and projects.”

Citing crowdsourced data from Ookla, the DICT said the Philippines ranked 86th in global mobile internet speed in January, up 25 places from a year earlier. Its speed ranking for fixed broadband was unchanged at 100th. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza