MANILA -- The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) announced that it is targeting to finalize its common tower policy within the second quarter of this year.

The policy will enable cell tower companies to build communication infrastructures that may be leased by telcos to enhance the quality of their services.

“We are expecting the policy, as the Secretary has said, should be out as soon as possible. We are trying to look at the second quarter of this year,” DICT Assistant Secretary Alan Silor said in a press briefing this Monday.

The DICT said it will allow the entry of more tower providers in the country as this will ultimately be more cost-efficient for the telcos.

“We are now telling the telcos: We now have tower companies that are willing to put up the infrastructures for you. They will be the ones to invest in the capex; they will be operating and maintaining these towers. All you have to do is rent from them,” according to DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr.

To date, the department has signed memorandums of understanding (MOU) with ISOC Infrastructures, Inc.; Singapore’s ISON ECP Tower Pte. Ltd.; IHS Towers; Edotco Group; RT Telecom Sdn Bhd of Malaysia, China Energy Engineering Corp; Aboitiz InfraCapital and MGS Construction Inc.

It is set to sign MOUs with American Towers, Frontier Tower Associates Management Pte. Ltd., and GNI-JTower Inc. Consortium on Tuesday.

The DICT has asked Smart Communications, Globe Telecom and Mislatel Consortium to individually provide a list of areas and number of cell sites that their respective operations will need.

“If we had this tender; if Globe, Smart and Mislatel can make available to the 11. Then these 11 will give their offer to the 3 telcos, government will not interfere on the operations. We will let market forces decide,” Rio said.

The tower providers need to partner with the telcos for them to build on their infrastructures.

The DICT will then sign a memorandum of agreement with them wherein the department will provide assistance through facilitation of permits, right of way, and providing other government support for infrastructure.

The department estimates that the common tower initiative would generate about USD4.4 billion in new investments, creating thousands of domestic jobs.

The DICT has said the Philippines needs additional 50,000 cell towers to be competitive with its neighboring countries in providing quality communication services to the public.

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