The Philippines government advanced a strategy to simplify processes around deploying shared telecoms infrastructure, with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) joining with eight other agencies to agree procedures to accelerate tower construction.

Various government ministries and the Anti-Red Tape Authority signed on to the move, which DICT explained in a statement aims to “streamline requirements” around “permits, licences, clearances, certificates and other requirements” for passive tower infrastructure. The department explained this complements guidelines it recently issued around the matter.

“The signing of the guidelines is a significant step in addressing the nation’s connectivity needs that have become more immediate” due to the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, DICT secretary Gregorio Honasan said. “The deployment of common towers, particularly in unserved and underserved areas, will improve not only internet condition, but also socio-economic welfare through ICT”, he added, noting this was a key goal of the Balik Probinsya, Balik Pag-Asa Programme development plan initiated by President Rodrigo Duterte.

DICT is targeting a reduction in the timeline for building towers from more than 200 days to 16 days: authorities will be required to process, approve and issue permits within seven days, with clearance deemed to have been granted if the timeline is not met.

It wants to remove requirements including requiring approval from cities and towns, and the need for environment compliance certificates.

DICT finalised its policy governing shared infrastructure earlier in the year, having outlined plans in mid-2019 to boost deployment of 50,000 common towers over the following seven years.