PLDT, Inc. said it will continue to work with the government to find a permanent solution to the right-of-way (ROW) issues that prevent telecommunications companies from constructing information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure projects along national roads.

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark A. Villar issued Department Order No. 29 on March 23 “to facilitate the erection of infrastructure that will allow speedy expansion of telecommunication services and facilities while ensuring public safety, availability of government’s ROW, and the structural integrity of roads and bridges.”

Mr. Villar’s department order allows telcos “to construct and undertake excavations and/or restoration works for ICT infrastructure projects within the allowable ROW limits of the national roads.”

But the order will automatically cease application “after the lapse of three years from March 23, 2021,” according to PLDT.

“We will be relentless in securing government issuances that will provide a more permanent solution to this ROW issue,” Aileen D. Regio, first vice-president and head of PLDT’s Regulatory and Strategic Affairs, was quoted as saying in an e-mailed news release on Tuesday.

PLDT said Mr. Villar’s order should help speed up the rollout and assist in ensuring the “timely” maintenance of its fiber infrastructure as well as Smart Communications, Inc.’s cell sites.

“This collaboration with the government is part of PLDT and Smart’s initiatives to improve the maintenance and operations of our network facilities and advocate for the improvement of the regulatory environment to boost the country’s digital infrastructure,” Smart Vice-President and Head of Regulatory Affairs Roy D. Ibay said.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Arjay L. Balinbin