DICT unveils Tower Watch PH to ensure steady ICT upgrade in PH
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) on Thursday launched a monitoring mechanism for tower construction that will ensure the continued building of ICT infrastructure in the country regardless of changes in national leadership.
Called Tower Watch PH, it is also seen to further streamline permit processing time and accelerate the rollout of connectivity infrastructure in the country.
“The case is when a new administration sits in, some projects of the previous admin are sidelined to give way to the projects of the current admin—we don’t want that to happen,” explained DICT Secretary Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II in a statement.
“We hope to ease the regulatory burdens that impede the construction of necessary telecommunications infrastructure. We also hope to promote transparency and accountability — two important factors in ascertaining the speedy approval and issuance of tower permits,” he added.
Tower Watch PH aims to complement the government’s initiatives in addressing the slow internet speed and lack of Internet presence in isolated and disadvantaged areas due to the low number of towers, fiber backhaul, and fiber network, the DICT said.
The DICT also hopes to encourage more investments through a “conducive and enabling policy environment” and subsequently enable the government to provide nationwide access to broadband services.
“We noticed that even with the issuance of the Joint Memorandum Circular no. 01, s. 2021 on the guidelines for the issuance of permits, licenses, and certificates for the construction of Shared Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructure (PTTIs), there is a danger that without a transparency system, the regressive attitudes would still continue,” said Undersecretary for Digital Philippines Emmanuel Caintic.
“Thus, to promote transparency and help our private sector accelerate the digital infrastructure buildup, the DICT has developed this Tower Watch monitoring system,” he added.
Tower Watch PH will cover applications submitted by independent tower companies and mainstream telecommunications firms for the building or installation of PTTIs or common towers, fiber optic cables, and installation of in-building solutions.
It will allow telcos to self-report their applications through the system, including the date and time the requirements were submitted to the concerned local government unit (LGU) or national government agency.
The system will then record and transmit the information to the concerned LGU or agency as it can also monitor pending applications and tag those that are delayed. The DICT believes this scheme would allow agencies to monitor the compliance of LGUs or offices and ensure their cooperation with the prescribed processing times.
“As the Tower Watch PH provides transparency, the private sector, and the public can make agencies and LGUs accountable in case they fail to comply with the common tower policy, the issuances on streamlined processing of permits, and most especially Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018,” Honasan said.
“This system serves as our safety net to ensure continuity of the national ICT development agenda whoever the DICT Secretary or the administration is. Moreover, we hope to encourage more telcos to build more infrastructure and, in the long run, improve internet speed and connectivity in the nation,” he added.
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