The Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) plans to work with the country’s telecoms regulator and mobile operators to fast track the rollout of 50,000 common towers in seven years.

DICT proposed signing an MoU with the National Telecommunications Commission and operators, calling for all parties to coordinate to identify priority sites for tower deployment. It targets rolling out 3,000 sites in the first year and gradually increasing the number to 10,000 sites by the fifth to seventh years.

Globe Telecom and Smart Communications, the two major mobile operators in the country, together have deployed roughly 16,000 towers across the Philippines.

The DICT said it wants to finalise its common tower policy, which was first proposed in September 2018 to improve efficiency by avoiding tower duplication, within a month of operators releasing a list of priority sites.

It said it will assist companies to work out binding contracts and help operators comply with the legal, regulatory and administrative requirements for building towers.

There are more than 25 permits which can take eight months or more to secure to deploy just one tower. DICT aims to create an inter-agency one-stop shop to speed processing of licences, clearances, permits, certifications and authorisation, in coordination with government agencies.

Last month the two incumbent mobile operators and the incoming third major player, Mislatel Consortium, expressed interest in supporting DICT’s common and shared passive infrastructure policy. Since December 2018, DICT signed MoUs with 11 tower companies.