MANILA -- The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will be implementing measures to expedite the granting of permits for the construction of cell towers across the country.

DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said the department is eyeing to implement a policy which will reduce to seven days the process of issuance of permits for telcos in compliance with Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business Act.

Currently, it takes eight months to secure at least 25 necessary permits and documents on building towers.

“The common tower firms just need to get business with the telcos and the government will support them in addressing delays in securing permits, right of way, site acquisition and such,” Rio said at a press briefing last Friday during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Chinese state-owned firm China Energy Engineering Corp. to provide common towers that may be leased to telcos to improve the delivery of their services to consumers.

“There will be no more headache for the telcos as we will take care and facilitate the processing of permits for the common tower companies,” he added.

The department is eyeing to create an inter-agency task force that will consist of various agencies, such as the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and local government units to ease the process of issuance of permits.

To date, the DICT has signed MOUs with five tower providers: local firm ISOC Infrastructures, Inc.; Singapore’s ISON ECP Tower Pte. Ltd.; IHS Towers of Nigeria; Edotco Group of Malaysia; and China Energy Engineering Corp.

It has expressed its intention to sign more deals with tower providers to build and deploy cell sites and other facilities that will be leased to telco firms, which may then use them to improve their delivery of service.

The DICT seeks to implement a common tower policy that will allow more companies to build and deploy cell sites and other facilities that will be leased to telco firms, which may then use them to improve their delivery of service.

Stakeholders in the industry have expressed their view that allowing the entry of more providers would promote competition, benefiting consumers through improved communication services.

Rio earlier said that the Philippines needs an additional 50,000 cell towers to be competitive with its neighboring countries in providing quality telco services to the public.

The Philippines currently has 16,000 cell sites against 67 million internet users, giving it the lowest cell site density in Asia.

The lack of cell towers has been identified as one of the barriers to affordable and consistently reliable Internet services in the country. (PNA)