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DICT Pledges To Maintain Common Tower Project

The Philippines’s Department of ICT has announced that it plans to continue with its common tower project regardless of whether the franchise of new major player Mislatel is deemed valid or invalid.

The department is recruiting tower operators for a common tower provider program aimed at improving the infrastructure available to the market’s mobile operators.

One major objective for this initiative is improving the infrastructure available to Mislatel, which was the sole qualified bidder in the new major player selection process, and has an ambitious plan to achieve 70 percent population coverage in its first three years of operation.

Mislatel is a joint venture between China Telecom and businesses owned by local tycoon Dennis Uy, including Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company – also known as Mislatel – which was granted a congressional telecommunications franchise in 1998.

But the validity of this franchise has been called into question both in parliament and through legal challenges, and the company now potentially faces having its franchise revoked.

But in light of the debate over the validity of the Mislatel franchise, the DICT insisted last week that it will proceed with its common tower project regardless of the outcome.

“We will go ahead with the common tower initiative even if we have only two telcos because the fact remains that we still need an additional 50,000 towers to improve our connectivity,” acting ICT secretary Eliseo M. Rio said during a signing ceremony with a sixth tower provider.

“Common towers can bring down the cost of our telecommunication services so there is definitely a need for this initiative, whether we have to two or three or even four telcos.”

Rio said the common tower project is expected to bring in around USD 4.4 billion in investment and create thousands of new jobs, without using any public funds.

The newest tower provider to join the initiative, which will grant participants with easier access to permits and other approvals, is Malaysia-based RT Telecom. The operator is the second Malaysian tower provider to sign on to the initiative after Edotco Group.―Telecom Asia

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