Globe says Jacinto's common tower proposal creates 'duopoly'

Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 21 2019 10:38 PM

MANILA - An official of Globe Telecom said a Presidential adviser's proposal to limit the number of telco tower builders and operators to two would create a "duopoly".

Globe general counsel Froilan Castelo said that while their company is open to working with independent tower companies, the government should not cap the number of telco tower operators to just two.

“Ginagawa mong duopoly at restrictive ang pagpasok ng mga tower companies sa Pilipinas,” Castelo said.

(You are creating a duopoly and making it restrictive for tower companies to enter the Philippines.)

Castelo said this was anti-competitive and unconstitutional.

Presidential Adviser for Economic Affairs Ramon Jacinto earlier claimed that having just two tower companies will make these firms more economically viable.

Jacinto also wants to disallow incumbent telcos from building their own towers, unless the independent tower operator can't build in the telco's preferred sites.

Senate Public Services Committee Chairperson Grace Poe has vowed to block Jacinto’s plan, saying this would slow down the construction of new telecommunications towers just as the third telco is about to roll out its services.

Information and Communications Technology Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio also earlier warned that Jacinto's plan may delay the roll out of telco towers because it may be challenged in the courts by Globe and Smart.

Rio noted that the two-tower policy may infringe on the franchise of telcos to build their infrastructure.

Globe earlier said it does not object to having common cellular towers, but the company should still be allowed to build its own towers.

Castelo meanwhile said that they are already in talks with independent tower builders to put up a common tower open for any telco to use.

“Kami ay nasa proseso ng pagpili at pag-acccredit sa kanila.”

(We are in the process of choosing and accrediting them.)

'IT MEANS NOTHING'

Rio said the DICT has already inked a memorandum of understanding with 5 tower companies. This agreement means that the agency will support the tower builders by assisting with them with securing permits, Rio said.

Normally, builders need to secure 25 permits to build a telco tower, but DICT can help expedite this.

"Kung DICT na mismo ang magha-handle nito through ease of doing business, so ang laki ang contribution namin sa pagpabilis ng layout o pag roll out ng mga towers," Rio said.

(If the DICT itself handles this, through the ease of doing business [law] then we can greatly contribute to speeding up the layout or roll out of towers.)

Jacinto meanwhile said that the DICT's agreement with the tower builders "means nothing."

“Hindi naman agreement yun eh. Ang sinasabi lang ng MOU they will support kung makakuha sila ng kontrata or ng agreement sa isang telco operator," Jacinto said.

Jacinto insisted that the "final guidelines" that will be released by his office will set the common tower policy because they were mandated by President Rodrigo Duterte to do this.

The DICT has no say in the common tower policy, Jacinto said.

But Rio said he will be the one who signs the common tower policy, and he will be the one who needs to face the court if the policy encounters legal challenges.

"Dapat i-consider ni RJ na hindi niya pwedeng ipilit yung gusto niya," Rio said.

(RJ [Ramon Jacinto] should consider that he can't force what he wants.)