Govt cuts red tape in permits needed to build common towers


Posted at Jul 23 2020 02:55 PM

MANILA - The government is aiming to speed up the construction of common telco towers by cutting the number of permits needed to construct these facilities. 

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on Thursday said it signed a joint memorandum circular with several other departments and line agencies to streamline requirements and reduce delays in securing needed documents for the construction of cell towers meant to be shared by different telcos.

The DICT has cited the country’s low number of telco towers or cell sites as one of the reasons for the country’s relatively slow mobile internet speeds. While Vietnam has around 70,000 cell sites, the Philippines only has around 20,000 as of 2018, according to a former DICT official. The construction of towers that can be shared by different telco players has been proposed to boost the number of cell sites. 

The DICT said that with the signing of the joint circular, firms seeking to build common towers will no longer have to deal with multiple permitting requirements and can focus on rolling out towers across the country. 

From 200 days, the guidelines in the joint circular, aim to reduce the roll out of towers to just 16 days, the DICT said. 

Common tower builders will no longer need to secure permits from municipal or city councils and barangay councils. If the cell tower’s proposed location is outside an environmentally critical area, the builder will no longer need to get an environmental compliance certificate either. 

They are also no longer required to get a Radiation Safety Evaluation Report from the Food and Drug Administration, as well as present a Certified True Copy of NTC Provisional Authority, Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, and Certificate of Registration to Provide Telecommunication Services. 

If the tower is less than 50 meters tall and is located outside the designated critical areas of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, tower builders will no longer need a height clearance permit from the CAAP either. 

The joint circular is meant to cut the time for the processing, approval and issuance of permits to 7 days in compliance with the Ease of Doing Business law. 

Former DICT Undersecretary Eliseo Rio earlier blamed local government corruption for slowing down the issuance of permits to construct telco towers.