In the Philippines, the current number of cell sites is 16,500. Unfortunately, this is not enough to serve the needs of millions of mobile internet users. According to the telcos, the long process of securing permits is slowing down the expansion of their networks.
To address the demand for more cell towers, the governement will push tower sharing to be mandatory among all telecommunication companies. This regulation will be implemented under the Common Tower Policy.
The Common Tower Policy will give birth to a new sub-industry where independent tower companies (TowerCos) will be responsible for building cell towers for the country. These towers can be leased to telco companies and even to new players who want to enter the telecommunication business.
However, the telcos have a problem with the rules. The government is limiting the building of towers to only two independent TowerCos. The telcos are not allowed to build their own towers or invest in tower companies.
According to Smart,
Notwithstanding the existence of independent TowerCos, MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) should still be permitted to exercise their right to build telecommunications towers in accordance with their respective franchises. Finally, the number of independent TowerCos should not be limited to two as it is anti-competitive.
Globe General Legal Counsel Froilan Castelo said,
The most successful and thriving tower companies are those established by tower companies or through a consortium of MNOs. Opening up the TowerCos to all MNOs avoids anti-competitive risks because even new entrants may join a TowerCo consortium.
DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said he agrees the government cannot keep the telcos from building their own towers.
“Yes, it is in their franchise and they cannot be prevented to put up their own infra including towers. We can’t come out with a Department policy or order that we cannot implement because we can be sued in court. We will have a dialogue with the telcos on how to resolve this,” Mr. Rio said in a text message to BusinessWorld.
The DICT plans to finalize the Common Tower Policy by November.[Source: Business World, Globe]